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Ecuador's Congress weighs approval of cannabis oil

By Renzo Pipoli   |   Jan. 8, 2019 at 11:29 AM
The Ecuadorean government may soon enact a law to authorize commercialization of cannabis oil for medical purposes, which includes the granting of licenses to grow plants and produce the oil. Photo by 7raysmarketing/Pixabay

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Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Ecuadoreans may soon have access to cannabis oil for medicinal purposes once their Congress finishes reviewing an initiative that could also grant licenses to grow the plant.

The Ecuadorean Congress will soon hold a second debate session of a new Organic Code of Health that incorporates the therapeutic use of cannabis to alleviate a set of conditions yet to be defined by the country's health ministry, El Telegrafo newspaper said Tuesday.

"The component that is to be approved is Cannabidiol," Victor Alvarez, president of the medical association of the Pichincha province, told the newspaper. The initial debate was held last week.

The initiative could include five-year licenses to individuals or organizations to produce cannabis oil with no more than 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, content, the newspaper added. THC is the euphoria-producing ingredient in cannabis.

The CBD product, to be only available in pharmacies, would have to identify the place of production and the strain used, it said.

El Universo newspaper reported in October the approval of the initiative at the congressional commission level, which made it possible for the bill to move forward to be debated in a full session before voting.

Ecuador has seen public demonstrations to push for approval of marijuana, both to be used for medical and recreational purposes.

El Universo newspaper reported in May there was a demonstration in Guayaquil, the country's second biggest city, attended by hundreds of people to demand full legalization.

That demonstration, called by a group named Facebook Guayaquil Canabico with over 10,000 members, was met with police resistance. Some officials attempted to search the belongings of some of the march participants, El Universo added.

The country's medical authorities say they recognize the plant's potential health benefits.

"Cannabis can be a medical alternative and we should not deprive our patients," said Veronica Espinosa, health minister of Ecuador, in a June statement.

Ecuador approved in 2015 a new Law of Drugs that decriminalized cannabis consumption. However, lack of clarity causes confusion not just in society but also among authorities, according to a Monday report by Plan V.

While that law legalized the consumption of small quantities of marijuana, it can be easy for a consumer to be charged with being a "micro" drug trafficker, which is penalized with up to three years in jail, Plan V added.

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