While the U.S. is still indecisive or just playing dumb and leaving marijuana in a category called Schedule I, together with heroine and LSD, Chile has gone in opposite direction. In the latest effort in Chile’s easing up on pot laws, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a decree that removes marijuana from the category of “hard drugs,” giving the country’s Ministry of Health authorization to “permit and control the use of cannabis, extracts and tinctures, for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products,” according to Chilean news publication, El Espectador. The change in policy now classifies marijuana together with other “soft drugs” like alcohol, and could be the most recent in a string of significant steps toward legalizing cannabis in Chile.
Legalization In Chile
Chile has thus joined an international trend of easing restrictions on marijuana for medical or personal use. Planting, selling and transporting marijuana still remains illegal in Chile and if one gets caught carrying on any of these activities, one might go to jail for up to 5-10 years. Congress is expected to soon debate wider changes to Chile’s drug law, so this might change as well. However, the newly signed decree legalizes the sale of cannabis-derived medicine at pharmacies. While this change is still a long way off from full-scale legalization, many see it as a very important step towards making cannabis more accessible in Chile. In October 2014, the government launched a program that aimed to produce cannabis for medicinal uses. In April last year the country saw its first legal harvest of medical marijuana. “The 400 plants were sown . . . in a heavily guarded field of about 100 square meters in the residential district of La Florida, in the capital of Santiago,” teleSUR English reported. “The non-profit organization Daya Foundation was then granted a permit to extract cannabis oil in a pilot program aimed at treating 200 cancer patients for free.”
What Is The U.S. Waiting For?
No one knows. Since 1972, there have been numerous proposals in the United States to remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most tightly restricted category reserved for drugs which have “no currently accepted medical use”. Even President Obama has been calling for the rescheduling of the plant, as it’s current position obstructs important medical research. However, the Congress is as always working slowly. It couldn’t be more obvious that cannabis does not meet the criteria of this category as it does have medicinal use and value, which has been proved in many scientific studies. Meanwhile, more than 20 states and Washington D.C. have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Weird, right? This means that all of these states’ laws are in conflict with federal law, because according to it, marijuana is still illegal! This is the reason why doctors in the U.S. are still not prescribing marijuana to their patients. Instead, they are recommending it, which is something they are allowed to do because of the 5th Amendment.