Argentine Senate Approves Cannabis Bill

The Argentine Senate has approved the country’s proposed medical cannabis and industrial hemp bill. Support for the initiative was overwhelmingly positive, but not everyone was in agreement. While supporters see the bill as a vehicle for promoting new job creation and export growth, detractors point out issues like there being no official agency that approves cannabis as a medicine.

On Thursday, the Argentine Senate approved the bill that creates a regulatory framework for the development of a medical cannabis and industrial hemp industry. The initiative obtained 56 positive votes, five negative votes, and one abstention, so it was ready to be dealt with in the Chamber of Deputies.

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A New Legal Framework

It is a new legal framework to both promote and bring order to the activity of commercializing cannabis and hemp. The current law, which was created in 2017, enabled local production but only on a very low scale and on an experimental basis. It was not intended in terms of developing a real industry around cannabis and the hemp plant.

The initiative proposes to regulate the different productive links, the commercialization of industrial hemp and its by-products, such as textile fibers, clothing and footwear, paper, food, cosmetics, construction materials, and many others. It does not, however, legislate on the “recreational” consumption of cannabis, which is still prohibited by the current narcotics law (23,737).

The Creation of a Cannabis and Hemp Regulator

Among its most salient points, the proposed regulation contemplates the creation of the Regulatory Agency of the Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis Industry (ARICCAME). This agency will have the function of “regulating the import, export, cultivation, industrial production, manufacture, commercialization, and acquisition of cannabis seeds, cannabis flowers, and its derivative products for medicinal or industrial purposes.”

During his intervention, Senator Adolfo Rodríguez Saá (Frente de Todos) recalled that “hemp was legal and was produced in our country, but the dictatorship made clandestine an activity that in the world is accepted”.

“We are removing that prohibition that will allow, complying with the rules of this law, to produce hemp”, she said.

Broad Support For Cannabis Bill Is There, But Senate Not Entirely Unanimous

Laura Rodríguez Machado, a senator of the PRO from Córdoba, agreed with the senator from San Luis Potosí in that “cannabis cultivation must be taken out of the clandestinity, medical cannabis must be regulated, and hemp production must be controlled”, although she made differences with the official project, arguing that “it violates the Constitution on provincial faculties.”

Cristina López Valverde (Frente de Todos) emphasized the benefits that the scale production of cannabis would bring in terms of health, “to relieve people who seek to mitigate pain in very cruel diseases, such as epilepsy, fibromyalgia or the discomfort of chemotherapy.”

Unlike Rodríguez Machado, the radical Mario Fiad supported the initiative, “especially taking into account that Jujuy has led with its enterprise the programs of production and research of cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

Silvina García Larraburu, from Río Negro, praised the project and said that it aims at “creating and regulating a new market from an anchorage based on public health.”

Meanwhile, María Eugenia Catalfamo (Frente de Todos) also valued the initiative, of which she said that “it seeks to improve the health and quality of life of those people who require the medical treatment of cannabis.”

Pamela Verasay, from the UCR in Mendoza, expressed her rejection to the bill, to which she attributed a supposed “lack of federalism” for attributing to the national administration “functions that can be developed by the provinces, which have the power to regulate and regulate their economic activities.”

Roberto Mirabella from Santa Fe (Frente de Todos) praised the bill because it allows “removing” cannabis from the “nomenclature of narcotic drugs,” while making progress with “the whole productive chain of cannabis and hemp with a productive vision.”

His peer from Chubut, Alfredo Luenzo, expressed the same opinion and pointed out that “in Latin America prohibitionism has only brought business with drug trafficking and deaths.”

On the contrary, Alberto Weretilneck (Frente de Todos) expressed his opposition to the bill and argued that Cannabis is “much more harmful than alcohol and that it is a starter drug.”

“There is no agency in the world that has approved cannabis as a medicine,” he warned.

“I don’t agree to go along with that message that cannabis has no negative impact on people. Cannabis has already been qualified as harmful and damaging, some people talk about cannabis to make it look like an attenuated version,” he complained.

For the rionegrino “the legalization of cannabis leads future generations to backwardness, school dropout, and serious problems with health in their future,” sentenced the rionegrino.

As the last speaker before the vote, Anabel Fernández Sagasti (Frente de Todos) said that “this regulatory framework will allow us all to take advantage of the great potential that cannabis has in all its variants and in several areas of human development, not only from the productive and medicinal point of view, but also from the ecological point of view.”

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(Featured image by Richard T via Unsplash)

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First published in El Objectivo , a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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