Argentina paves its way into cannabis research for medical use, this time, under Law No. 27350, which sets forth a legal framework for medical and scientific studies on the medical, therapeutic and/or palliative use of hemp and its byproducts.
Since the passage of this statute on March 29, 2017, a great share of Argentine provinces and local governments have launched their own projects and made their first approach to this subject.
Cannabis in the Argentine Northwest
On December 2, 2020, Jujuy became the first Argentine province to produce hemp oil for medical use as a result of a pilot plan. The province has also drawn up a plan to grow hemp in 2021 over 35 ha of land belonging to El Pongo, a state-owned estate located in the southern region of this province.
Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales, alongside with his counterparts from the provinces of Corrientes and San Juan–Gustavo Valdés and Sergio Uñac, respectively–, the head of the National Directorate for Federal-Provincial Productive Affairs Coordination, Natalia del Cogliano, and a company called Cannava S.E, announced the opening of a hemp oil production lab and the first medical-grade byproduct produced in Argentina.
Cannava’s Research, Development and Innovation Laboratory has a total surface of 218 square meters and was built over an existing structure. These facilities are fitted with two drying chambers, a germination chamber, a QA lab and an extraction lab.
Are there any medical cannabis companies in Argentina?
Cannava is the first state-owned enterprise devoted to the manufacture and industrial production of cannabis derivatives for medical use to be established in Argentina. The company was incorporated thanks to an initiative by the government of Jujuy, introduced to meet demands of public healthcare and provide residents with the first medical-grade cannabis derivatives made in Argentina and produced in compliance with standards for good agricultural practice and good manufacturing practice, in accordance with the requirements imposed by the National Administration of Drugs, Food, and Medical Devices (or ANMAT, by its Spanish acronym).
Aiming to improve knowledge on this field, the government of Jujuy, through Cannava, has arranged a training course for local healthcare professionals on the medical use of cannabis, conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and of the highest academic and scientific standards.
The President Approves
Throughout the country, no two places are the same. However, everything leads us to believe that, in the not-so-distant future, the Argentine debate on cannabis regulation and self-cultivation is coming. “President Alberto Fernandez’s proposal is to carry out feasibility studies on the regulation of cannabis consumption and self-cultivation,” revealed Sabina Frederic, head of the Argentine Ministry of Security, some months ago. Despite the support of the president of the country, the Argentine House of Representatives must give its approval first.
The pandemic caused delays in Congress sessions, but still, two municipalities of the Province of Rio Negro–Viedma and San Antonio Oeste–regulated self-cultivation for therapeutic use. Some municipalities, such as Partido Rivadavia, set up registries to allow patients to grow their own hemp, while others, such as San Vicente or Hurlingham, approve of “cooperative cultivation.”
Apart from that, we can find a wide array of local governments, including those mentioned before, which have declared the therapeutic use of hemp as a matter of municipal interest, as in the case of Varela and Berazategui. In other jurisdictions, such as La Plata and the City of Buenos Aires, similar proposals have been made but they are still to be debated upon and approved. Finally, some other municipalities have established research centres, as in the case of Tigre.
A Research Alliance
On March 16, the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (known by its Spanish acronym, CONICET) and the mayor of Tigre entered into a cooperation agreement for the establishment of a laboratory to conduct research and produce medical cannabis in this district.
The CONICET is the main government entity for the promotion of science and technology in Argentina. Among its resources, we could mention the Research Unit in Neurosciences and Complex Systems, which is fitted with high-complexity analytical tools, human resources and experts in the analysis, isolation and purification of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Argentina is moving, although slowly, towards a paradigm shift. The coronavirus pandemic has stalled the debate on the amendment to the implementing regulations of Law No. 27350, which was scheduled for these months–an amendment that would have dealt with self-cultivation and the possibility of legal regulation of cannabis. In spite of this natural delay, the therapeutic use of cannabis is still gaining strength in Argentina and study and research are the first step towards abolishing the stigma surrounding this plant and its uses.