Lawmakers in Argentina this week unanimously voted to approve a bill that would legalize the use of cannabis oil for medical purposes and create opportunities for further research into its benefits in the country. After a Wednesday Senate vote followed by applause and tears from activists, the legislation was set to advance to the desk of President Mauricio Macri to be signed into law, Reuters reported.
"This is a dream fulfilled, an immense happiness because it will bring solace to patients," Maria Laura Alasi, a mother to an epileptic daughter, told Agence France Presse.
The bill was a long time coming. Though Argentina's supreme court ruled in 2009 that people couldn't be punished for the personal use of small amounts of marijuana, it stopped short of total decriminalization. Last year, the province of Chibut approved the use of cannabis oil from the United States for treating epilepsy and various other "pathologies that the provincial health minister deems appropriate" at hospitals, the Buenos Aires Herald reported at the time.
Under the latest bill, people will be able to join a national marijuana research project that will "guarantee free access to hemp oil and other derivatives" as a regulatory framework is established, Univision reported. They still can't grow it themselves.
"It is an imperfect law, but we have reached the beginning," Valeria Salech, with advocacy group Mamá Cultiva, told O Globo.
Medical use of cannabis oil has ramped up in recent years as parents and professionals have discovered its ability to reduce seizures in children. Activists have rallied in particular behind a high-CBD, low-THC strain called Charlotte's Web, which has little to no psychoactive effect on kids. Nearly 30 states now have laws allowing medical marijuana and cannabis use.