A special commission in the Lower House of Congress yesterday approved a bill that would enable the state to provide cannabis oil to people with certain diseases such as refractory epilepsy and autism. The bill wouldn’t decriminalize growing cannabis for medicinal purposes, a key issue that advocates of legalizing medicinal marijuana had long been pushing.

In a joint meeting attended by the committees of Homeland Security, Social Action and Public Health and Criminal Legislation, representatives from the ruling Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition — reluctant to even discuss the decriminalization of cannabis less than a month ago — managed to impose its version of the bill that included a few “suggestions” from other parties.

However, the goal of legalizing the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes didn’t make it through despite the strong show of support from opposition lawmakers and mothers of kids with some of the aforementioned conditions, grouped under the organization “Mama Cultiva” (Mom Grows), who made their way to Congress to watch the debate.

Mama Cultiva organization. Photo via Clarin
Mama Cultiva organization. Photo via Clarin

As a result of this, committee lawmakers from the Victory Front (FpV), the Leftist Workers Front-Party of Socialist Workers and Libres del Sur signed a statement in line with the group’s claims, pointing out that law can’t keep on “criminalizing” mothers who grow cannabis for their kids.

Law 23,737 says those found guilty of growing marijuana can be sentenced to anywhere from four to 15 years in prison. It does not differentiate among those who are growing for personal consumption or those who are doing it to sell.

“Hundreds of patients are waiting for an answer. What we propose with the document signed by different political caucuses except for Cambiemos, is to authorize research for medical and therapeutic purposes, public production and growing as long as they are in a registry overseen by the Health Ministry,” said FpV lawmaker Carolina Gaillard after the debate.

On his end, lawmaker Luis Petri assured that “Cambiemos guarantees free access to all and every patient who will sign on to the program [to get cannabis oil]. So far the state had looked the other way and didn’t take care of people who use cannabis oil.” The bill will now make its way to full Lower House for a debate and vote, at which point it would go to the Senate.