Chile has joined its fellow Latin American nations in accepting medical marijuana. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the largest medical marijuana farm in Latin America was formally inaugurated in a small Chilean town.
The 6,900-stalk farm is located in Colbun, which is 170 miles south of Chile's capital, Santiago. The organizers say they hope to sow about 1.65 tons of marijuana between March and May 2016. With such harvest, the plantation may help treat about 4,000 patients from all across Chile.
The project will be organized by Daya Foundation, a local non-profit organization.
Project leaders are set to collaborate with different laboratories and academic institutions to create therapies for pain, cancer, epilepsy and other medical conditions using cannabis.
Chile has been very conservative about using medical marijuana. The government has long been opposing the idea of creating the farm, delaying approvals and causing problems for the organizers.
The latest developments, however, mark changes in Chilean perspectives. Foundation head Ana Maria Gazmuri says people's opinions are shifting in the traditionally conservative nation.
"This farm will further permit people to see for themselves the reality of the plant, and what its uses are," she says.
As a result of the turns of opinions, Chile now joins the rest of the Latin American community in making medical marijuana a part of its health care system.
In 2013, Uruguay became the first nation in the world to legalize the production, sale and intake of medical marijuana.
In November 2015, the Mexican court permitted limited cultivation of the cannabis plant in their country.
Most recently, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree legalizing medical marijuana in December 2015.
Medical marijuana is actually the term used for the whole unprocessed plant. This means that medical marijuana makers use only the basic extracts of the plant to treat a variety of clinical signs and symptoms.
In U.S., the actual marijuana plant has not been approved as a medicine. However, the agency has approved two pill-form medications containing cannabinoids, which can be found in marijuana. Experts think further research may lead to the development of more drugs.
Given that the marijuana plant contains beneficial chemicals, some people are calling for its legalization for medical purposes. In the U.S., more and more states have approved medical marijuana.
Photo: Don Graham | Flickr