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Argentina’s Ministry of Health announced major changes to the country’s medical marijuana laws this week. Patients will now be permitted to grow cannabis at home and local pharmacies can now produce and sell medical pot products, according to Benziga.

After announcing the reforms, Ginés González García, Argentina’s Health Minister, told the press, “It is a very important day to demonstrate that it [cannabis] can be managed in the face of society.”

Medical marijuana was legalized in Argentina back in 2017, but murky language around access forced most patients to get their weed from the illicit market. As a result, patients broke other laws and risked jail time.

Under the new codes, patients and researchers who register with Argentina’s national cannabis program, REPROCANN, will be able to cultivate their own marijuana at home and have access to a “growth network.” The best part is that growers can keep their information anonymous, too.

REPROCANN-affiliated pharmacies will be authorized to manufacture and sell cannabis creams, oils, and topicals. Patients who are not registered with the program will be able to access those products with a doctor’s prescription. Patients who do not have health insurance will be able to access medical marijuana through the government, free of charge.

Other expected regulatory changes include expanding the conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana, prioritizing scientific cannabis research, and escalating output from government-owned laboratories.

“Knowing that cannabis can alleviate many people’s suffering and not doing anything about it, that’s the true crime,” said former Argentinian House rep Facundo Garreton, who’s now the director of YVY Life Sciences, an MMJ firm in Uruguay. “Good regulation will help to know the needs of every person, what to buy, where to buy it, while at the same time controlling the product’s quality. We hope this is the start of a path towards full regulation of the entire supply chain.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a terrible economic toll on Argentina. These reforms are likely a calculated response to the current situation in an effort to generate revenue throughout the country. “Cannabis is the answer to our therapies,” said Gabriela Cancellaro from advocate group NGO Mamá Cultiva Argentina. “But as we’re seeing all over the world, it also has the potential to create jobs in many sectors, not just in medicine, but also in agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing.”

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