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Chilean President Signs Decree Removing Pot from Hard Drug List

Maureen Meehan

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In the latest effort in Chile’s easing up on pot laws, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a decree on Friday removing marijuana from the list of “hard drugs,” giving the country’s Ministry of Health authorization to “permit and control the use of cannabis, extracts and tinctures, for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products,” according to Chilean publication, El Espectador.

The news implies that medical marijuana products can be sold in pharmacies and laboratories by prescription.

When pot was still on the hard drug list, planting, selling and transporting marijuana carried long jail terms. Thousands were arrested as drug traffickers even though they used pot for medical purposes.

Friday’s decree was welcome but not a total surprise especially after regional agricultural authorities recently approved a 6,900-plant pot farm, which is currently growing 20 strains of high-potency seeds.

The harvest from this government-approved pilot program, essentially the largest medical marijuana plantation in Latin America, is expected in April when the buds will be made into cannabis oil and distributed to an estimated 4,000 patients throughout Chile.

A bill to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes was approved last July, marking a major shift in the Chile’s drug policies and harsh sentencing laws.

Current regulations under Law 20,000 grants Chileans the right to possess up to 10 grams of pot and grow up to six marijuana plants per household at a time.

In Chilean society at large, those in favor of legalizing the use and cultivation of pot are also in the majority. Fifty percent are in favor while 45 percent are against, according to a 2014 poll carried out by Cadem, a Chilean market and public opinion investigation company.

When polls address the legalization of medical marijuana, this figure skyrockets to 86 percent in favor.

It looks like medical marijuana is getting off to a fine start in this South American country.

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