Chile planted its first cannabis plants for medicinal use on Wednesday. As part of a pilot program aimed to help ease the pain of cancer patients, this year long program adds to a global trend of easing restrictions.
The Columbian reports: seeds were imported from the Netherlands, and oil extracted from about half of the plants will be given to 200 patients selected by a municipality in the capital of Santiago and by the Daya Foundation, a nonprofit group that sponsors pain-relieving therapies.
“We’re living at a time in Chile and the rest of the world in which it’s not reasonable to close yourself to new evidence. Marijuana can provide some dignity to those who suffer,” said La Florida district Mayor Rodolfo Carter, who was inspired to back medical marijuana while watching his late father battle cancer. “It doesn’t cure cancer, but we can alleviate the pain.”
The experiment adds to a global trend of easing restrictions on marijuana for medical or personal use. The permit is only for one year, but Daya’s president, Ana Maria Gazmurri said she hopes it will be renewed.
Nicolas Dormal, co-founder of the Daya foundation said “Eventually, we want to make cannabis medicine available for everybody, even if they can’t afford it”
As well as approving the project in La Florida, the Chilean authorities have also given a local woman permission to import drugs made from cannabis, reports the BBC
Cecilia Heyder was diagnosed with lupus, a disease of the immune system, five years ago. Then, 18 months later, she got breast cancer.
She has had a mastectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. She has taken dozens of conventional painkillers but says their side effects were devastating.
“The pain was unbearable,” Ms Heyder told the BBC.
“I wanted to bang my head against the wall. I couldn’t walk, I was in a wheelchair. My kids would come into my bedroom and I couldn’t even raise myself from my bed to kiss them.”
Last year, out of desperation, Ms Heyder got hold of some cannabis and used it to make tea.
She says the impact was immediate. It was far more effective than any of the conventional painkillers she had taken.
Ms Heyder tried to get hold of cannabis-based drugs but they were unavailable in Chile.
And so, she lobbied the government for permission to import them.
In August, she got the go-ahead and in September her drugs arrived from Europe.
According to the Chilean authorities, it is the first time that medicine made from cannabis has been legally imported into Latin America.
The new project however, aims to give cancer patients like Cecilia a home-grown and cheaper alternative to imported drugs.
If it is successful, it could even be expanded to provide medicine for people suffering from other diseases.