Q24N (EFE) Carlos Ossa has been illegally introducing to Panama for years the only drops that managed to calm the pain of multiple sclerosis that he suffers; the traditional medicines on the market did not work for him and he found a palliative in cannabis oil.
“Today I feel patient, but not sick. I have quality of life, “he tells EFE from the living room of his home, showing an opaque bottle without labels.
Ossa is one of the civil promoters of the Law of Medicinal Use of Cannabis in Panama, an unprecedented norm and the first in Central America, which will help the activist -and other patients- to stop “gambling” to acquire their medicine, legal in other countries. countries, although it is still at the expense of being regulated.
Law 242 that “regulates the medicinal and therapeutic use of cannabis and its derivatives and dictates other provisions” was sanctioned by the president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, last October, after being approved with zero votes against in Parliament.
Through it, a “regulatory framework is created that allows the controlled and controlled use and access of medicinal cannabis and its derivatives for therapeutic, medical, veterinary, scientific and research purposes in the national territory”, which places the patient as the protagonist of the rule.
Thus, the law “regulates the right of every patient to access a cannabis treatment”, establishes “the control mechanisms of all activities regulated by law”, as well as the rules of “safety, control, quality and surveillance of products ”and promotes“ study and research ”.
Panama thus becomes part of the group of 13 countries in America that legislate cannabis, an initiative that has swept the region in recent years with the approval of its use -both therapeutic and recreational- after the innumerable scientific evidence on the plant properties.
“I am still illegal”: Patients urge regulation of the law
Living without cannabis is living with a lot of pain. We want it to be regulated soon, ”Luris Higuera, president of the Searching Alternatives Foundation, tells EFE.
According to the patients, the law, despite having been approved and published in the Official Gazette, has not yet been regulated, which still leaves them helpless.
They can arrest me, I’m doing something illegal. I am still an illegal person tied by the hands, “adds Higuera, a patient with” refractory “arthritis, a condition of the disease that prevents him from responding to medicinal treatments, according to her details.
Ossa reports that “today”, he continues to “get” his medicines from “abroad” because “until the law has been regulated it is as if it did not exist”, which allows patients to acquire medicine through of the black market without ensuring a “quality, healthy or accessible” product.
The most controversial articles
After five years of parliamentary debates, the law was approved unanimously despite containing some controversial articles, which, in the opinion of some of the promoters, could be improved.
The only deputy who objected to part of the law was Mayín Correa, from the Democratic Change party, as she disagreed with the planting of the plant, as it could attract “insecurity” and an increase in crime in the country, which is already a drug trafficking transit zone.
Article 21 provides that the Ministry of Health “may define the number of licenses” authorized, which up to “five years after” the law is promulgated “may only be up to seven manufacturing licenses.”
As well as number 24 establishes “temporarily” the authorization of “the importation of cannabis derivatives”, and that it “will be valid for two years.”
Both sections are the ones that attract the most controversy among patients, despite the fact that, as Ossa acknowledges, “to be the first, it is a law is a fair and necessary step”, because although “it is not perfect or ideal” it is “a great achievement.
Free use of cannabis in the future?
For Ossa, the “next step” would be a regulation for the free – or adult – use of cannabis, although he acknowledges that society is not yet ready to debate it.
“It must be clear that this is coming and that the discussion is about freedoms and rights. It is proven that prohibition has not been able to win over drug trafficking, “adds the activist.
Still, Ossa recalls that this fight to legalize medical cannabis, which confirms that they are “winning the battle”, has been “for a life without pain”, because “pain does not wait and this is a human rights issue.”