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When medical marijuana was legalized in Chile last year, it became the first country in South America to implement a government-backed program that allowed the cultivation of its own cannabis. A few months before Chile legalized it for medicinal use and cultivation, Uruguay became the first country in South America to implement full legalization.

As time goes by, the benefits of marijuana as a medicine are beginning to become more accepted, and demand for the product is growing. In La Florida, Chile, last year, the Daya Foundation was charged with spearheading the growing project. Nicolas Dormal, a leader and co-founder of the foundation stated:

“Eventually, we want to make cannabis medicine available for everybody, even if they can’t afford it.”

Unlike Uruguay, Chile’s acceptance did not originally extend to personal use. Less than a year ago, Rodolfo Carter, the mayor of the town where the marijuana was planted, stated:

“We don’t want to get into a debate about the personal use of marijuana.”

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What started as an attitude of approval for marijuana’s medical benefits, however, has since expanded into a greater desire for it to also be accepted for personal use. The lower house of the Chilean Congress has just approved a bill that not only decriminalizes recreational use, but which would also allow residents to grow their own cannabis in small quantities. Despite some criticism from a few representatives, the bill passed by a huge margin, with 68 voting in favor of the measure and only 39 voting against it.

If fully implemented, each household will be permitted to grow a maximum of six plants for recreational, medicinal or spiritual use, something that has previously been punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Before the measure is finalized, however, it will need to go through two more steps. First, it will be presented to a health commission. If it gains approval, it will then go to the Senate for a final vote.

Proponents remain hopeful that once adopted, the law will aid patients in gaining affordable access to the medicinal marijuana that is badly needed.

photo credit: BBC

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