Argentina: promising country to jump into the Cannabis Boom in Latin America
In Latin America, cannabis legislation remains, for the most part, very strict. Having said this, there are some exceptions and with an increasingly present global movement towards removing negative cannabis stereotypes, it is becoming clearer that within the region, legalisation of different forms of cannabis may be possible in the not-too-distant future. An example has been set for Argentina by its border neighbour Uruguay, where in 2017 the legalisation of recreational cannabis presented a first for the region but also an opportunity for other nations to look into changing their own legislation in order to adapt to the changing global outlook towards cannabis in its different forms. At the tail end of 2020, Argentina introduced a law which allows people with a license to grow their own medical cannabis within their homes, showing an openness towards the positives associated with cannabis. This is supported by the use of hemp based industrial cannabis, a trend which has taken off in Europe and has shown signs of also emerging in Argentina.
Medicinal cannabis is a non-intoxicating variant of the drug, making it an appealing alternative to existing pain management medication. The Argentine medical cannabis industry has seen a boom in recent times following the legalisation of self-grown medicinal cannabis last year as well as allowing pharmacies across the nation to expand their stock to include products that are made, in part, from cannabis. This changing of legislation will not only be a big relief for people who need the effects of medical cannabis to ease the symptoms of certain illnesses, but also shows the region as a whole that cannabis can be a positive influence in people’s lives. It has been reported by ‘DW’ that the legalisation of cannabis products like this, even though not for recreational use, should have the effect of reducing illegal importation of the drug, as well as being able to add market value, which is estimated by ‘Statista’ to reach US$753.4 million by 2028 in Argentina. The new law, however, does not mean that anyone can grow their own medicinal cannabis, there is a group called ‘Reprocann’ where those who intend to gain the right to cultivate their own plants must apply. In conjunction with this, those who want to be granted permission to use cannabis products and hemp oils must make a different application to ‘Reprocann’. It would appear that by allowing home-growing, although still strictly controlled, there is evidence to suggest that the overhanging negative views of cannabis are being overshadowed by science, and that the future will be positive for the market in Latin America.
As previously mentioned, industrial cannabis has a part to play in the cannabis landscape in Argentina. It has been established in various countries around the world, including the following in Latin America, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico, that a level of 1.0% THC (Tetrahidrocannabinol) level is acceptable. Having been set this example by other nations in the region, the opportunity an open market in industrial hemp would bring is made very present. Those in support of bringing in legislation to support its use argue that it can help Argentina to play its part in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, number 13 of which is “Act now to stop global warming”. This is important as it has been speculated that hemp-based construction materials absorb carbon from the atmosphere, reducing levels of pollution. In Argentina, almost 3 million hectares of land are used for organic agriculture, and while this is used currently for growing produce, it is land that would be ideal for partially converting in order to grow hemp. This is evidence further supporting the claim that Argentina would be a good location to legalise cannabis in some forms as land would not need to be cleared in order to facilitate a new market.
Overall, Argentina presents itself as an ideal location in Latin America to introduce a legal cannabis market. Medicinal cannabis grown by those approved to do so emphasises a modernising world where attitudes are changing to support science over stereotype, proving there is an opportunity to be found in introducing legislation which would make forms of cannabis legal in the region. Alongside this, industrial hemp would bring another dimension to the already important agricultural sector while also having environmental benefits on a local and international scale.