Autumn’s here guys! Summer’s drawing to a hazy close, and as the season’s bounteous crops are gathered we bask in that lovely Southern-Hemisphere harmony in which the stoners’ harvest festival pretty much falls in line with 4/20.

I mean, who’s to say that’s not one of the reasons harvest festivals are a thing anyway–the cornucopia is, basically, a beta-model bong, right?

Iconographic revelations aside, what is legitimately newsworthy here is the harvest in La Florida, Santiago, Chile that began yesterday. It is the first legal marijuana crop to be grown in Chile, following a permit that was granted to the Daya Foundation in October so that they could pilot a new project for providing pain-relief to cancer patients.

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via: legaljuice.com

The plan is for the cannabis oil extracted from the 850 plants (which were imported from the Netherlands, obviously) to be processed and then distributed as medicine free of charge to 200 cancer patients by January 2016. Cecilia Heyder, a lupus and cancer patient, summarizes why medicinal usage is, in fact, a fairly legit argument for legalizing–but regulating–cultivation of the crop:

“I don’t have to use a wheelchair anymore. It changed my quality of life. I’m not going to get better, but I’m not in pain”.

Chileans can still face up to 15 years for growing or selling bun for recreational use, but private consumption remains legal. However, just this Monday a bill was approved by the Congressional Health Committee to change the legal status of the drug from “hard” to “soft”; if the bill is passed, then Chileans will not only be able to possess up to 10g for personal and private use (as is the current situation), but those over 18 will be authorized to grow up to six plants each.

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Chile legalization march. Via: cannabischile.cl

Chile is a country in which drug policies–in particular those concerning recreational marijuana use–have been the subject of heated and prolonged debate in the past few years, with national protests and high-profile figures speaking out on the issue. Ex-President Ricardo Lagos came out with this call to arms in 2014:

“We should legalize all drugs in Chile … I am convinced that prohibitionist politics have failed.”

In April last year the Inter-American Court of Human Rights brought a complaint against Chile relating to the conviction of psychiatrist Milton Flores for his marijuana cultivation. The conviction was consequently overturned.

Global restrictions concerning marijuana have been similarly loosening, as attitudes towards the plant have been slowly mellowing; increasing research has been mounting up in favor of weed being physically non-addictive, medically useful, and a damn sight less dangerous than its erratic/psychotic/tear-your-own-skin-off Class-A brethren. In the US, more than 20 states allow medical marijuana in some form, and in Colorado and Washington personal use has been legalized. In Uruguay, Mujica legalized sale and distribution of the ‘J back in 2013; since then, though, implementation has been postponed, and now we’ve lost Jose “people’s champion” Mujica to new president Milton Romani, the grass isn’t looking quite so green on the other side of the border control fence. Over here, though, pressure is being put on the government to rethink its drugs policies; last December a mellow but 150,000 strong legalization march took place in BsAs, and apparently optimism reigns with regard to the possibility of Argentina considering more liberal legislation sometime soon.

For more on Argentina’s second favorite green herb (unless you’re really into, like, oregano) take a look at our BsAs Guide.

In the meantime, it’s one more in a long list of reasons to hope Chile doesn’t get hit by raging wildfire anytime soon.