A Time to Sow: Chile Plants Cannabis Seed for Medical Marijuana Program

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Chile has permitted the planting of a 9,150 square-foot cannabis garden in the capital city. The heavily guarded marijuana grow operation is a one-year probationary program that the Chilean government greenlit in response to the lobbying efforts of a a very sick citizen.

Cecilia Heyder has had lupus for five years. According to the BBC, she was diagnosed with breast cancer a year and a half ago, which began her crusade to grow marijuana legally.

Her breast cancer treatments left her in a wheelchair and in intolerable pain, despite being given conventional painkillers. In her desperation, she obtain cannabis and made a tea that she found provided her with immediate relief. She found the cannabis-based drug Sativex in Europe, but it was illegal to import. Heyder lobbied the Chilean government for the right to import the drugs, and her request was granted. Chilean officials are saying this is the first time cannabis-based drugs have been legally imported into Latin America.

Unfortunately, buying this imported cannabis medicine is incredibly expensive; despite having raised thousands of dollars on social media, Heyder can only afford three months of medicine at roughly $2,000 per month. Given her previous success with lobbying the government, the terminally ill Heyder tried again, this time requesting access to cannabis-based medicine that would be free. This required domestic cultivation.

The permission was granted, and the seeds are in the dirt as of Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, surrounded by a massive electric fence. The hope is to have a harvest ready in April. Half of the harvest will be made into cannabis oil, which could provide pain relief to as many as 200 suffering cancer patients across Chile. A not-for-profit called the Daya Foundation will be overseeing the project, and there will reportedly be a clinical study on the effectiveness of the harvested marijuana as a painkiller being conducted as well.

The marijuana oil will be given to those unable to afford the expensive European drugs. This compassionate approach to the issue is the kind of example the world currently needs. If the program is successful, Chile’s medical marijuana program may be expanded to included other conditions as well.

How inspiring; a government that changes its laws to protect its citizens, instead of punishing and incarcerating the ill. Many thanks to the Chilean government for its demonstration of compassion for its citizenry, and best of luck to those growing, processing, and receiving the medicine from the first legal medical marijuana grow in Chile.

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Photo Credit: Lanailic under public domain via Pixabay