SANTIAGO – The imminent change in Chile’s government is generating concern among the country’s growing number of medical marijuana users, who currently find themselves in an ambiguous legal situation.
Though outgoing President Michelle Bachelet approved by decree the “use of cannabis for the manufacture of medicinal products for human use,” medical marijuana users suffering from “chronic pain and illnesses” are in a situation of “legal uncertainty,” representatives of non-governmental organizations such as Latinoamerica Reforma have said.
The decree, which allows citizens to use marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes – but not to purchase, sell or transport it –, could be overturned by President-elect Sebastian Piñera’s conservative government when it takes the reins of power on March 11.
Piñera has said that “it has not yet been proven that marijuana has medicinal effects,” a position shared by future Health Minister Emilio Santelices.
Santelices has been critical of the recent proliferation of cannabis clubs in Chile – which he believes to be a legal “subterfuge” for the indiscriminate sale of marijuana – and has urged the future president to take a clear position on the issue.
A growing number of patients suffering from chronic pain, as well as physical and psychological disorders, see marijuana as a substitute for traditional pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, Chilean Supreme Court Justice Manuel Valderrama told EFE that the law is clear and that “the use, transport and cultivation of marijuana is sanctioned,” although he admitted that there are exceptions to every rule.