In September 2014, the Chilean Government announced plans to establish the first marijuana cultivation site to be dedicated to studying medical benefits of the plant. By the end of October, after many patients lobbied for access, the government approved that medical cannabis plants be cultivated for 200 Chilean patients. This was the first project of it’s kind in South America.
Now, the government of Chile has approved a second medical marijuana farming project. However, this time is different. This project aims to establish an industrial production process and research facility to hopefully establish a national and international sales and production market.
The company awarded approval for this project is called Agrofuturo. According to the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) of Chile, the cultivation project will be set up in Los Ángeles, more than 300 miles south of the first approved cultivation site. Jaime Peña, regional director of the SAG told Bio Bio Chile, the these cultivation centers will operate under strict regulations. Each facility will be fenced and have 24-hour surveillance and security. Agrofuturo is not permitted to reproduce or clone any of the plants or seeds that will be provided for this grow operation.
The Congress of Chile will reportedly also hear 2 different bills to allow for the production and sale of medical marijuana. Currently, cannabis consumption is not illegal in the South American country, but growing and selling the plant is.
While the Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet (pictured below), reported that Chile is not ready to pass any such legalization legislation at this time, she did establish a technical committee to analyze drug reform legislation. She will wait to hear from that advisory committee before making any changes to the law.
photo credit: La Prensa, Slate
The number of clinical studies that have been conducted on the use of cannabis oil in the treatment of different forms of epilepsy and other seizure disorders far under-represents the public want and need for such research. Parents of children suffering from such conditions in the United States, South America and the rest of the world have even rallied to draw attention to this crime against humanity. Being granted cannabis research permission is the United States is nearly impossible due to the current classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Until the federal government removes cannabis from this classification all together, like alcohol, more people, including children, will continue to suffer.
Last year, a coalition of parents with children suffering from different forms of epilepsy and seizure disorders was able to convince legislators in Alabama to approve a bill allowing such research. The study is to be conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and now, the Food and Drug Administration is officially approving the study.
Permission for this research has been granted to the UAB Neurology department, and reportedly aims to test the effectiveness of the marijuana cannabinoid, known as cannabidiol (CBD), as a treatment for seizure disorders. This study will be different than others conducted because there will be no placebo group. All participants will receive the cannabidiol rich extract during clinical trials. However, there is a catch. A university representative told ABC 3340 that the FDA approved the study with a few alterations. These modifications are expected to be discussed by a review board in January 2015, and hopefully the study will be able to begin soon thereafter.
photo credit: dr-bonni.bitnamiapp
Over 100 desperate Chilean mothers started a support group called Mama Cultiva, or Mama Grows, to share information about medical marijuana in the treatment of epileptic children. The group of mothers host covert meetings to learn about the cultivation of marijuana as well as the extraction of the CBD known to treat epileptic conditions.
Though consumption of this life-saving medicine is permitted, the cultivation still remains highly illegal and carries up to a 15 year prison sentence. This hasn’t stopped this small group of Chilean mothers from taking actions to save their kids.
Paulina Bobadilla is just one of the many mothers who fights daily with the reality of severe epileptic conditions. Paulina told the Associated Press that her child was in such severe pain that she would tear out her own fingernails.
Another mother, Gabriela Reyes, is an active member of the group with a seven-month-old who was experiencing up to 300 seizures per day. After Gabriela began treating her infant with the extracted cannabis oil (with a few drops on the pacifier) the number of seizures dropped to just 12 per day.
The members of the group can undoubtedly relate in their sense of despair, and justly pay no attention to Chile’s cannabis laws. There are currently 15,000 children in Chile that could benefit from the still illegal cannabis oil.
In September, Chile’s government began planting 750 medical marijuana plants for use in medical research. Mama Cultiva was not permitted into the program due to their focus on children, a verdict that is somewhat counterintuitive.
Still, there remains hope for Chileans as the government tiptoes in to marijuana research and unwavering parents stand up for their ailing children.