Nito signs regulations for medical marijuana

Jah like
Jah may or may not like it, but in any case there is no historical evidence that Rastafari, who owned a brewery, smoked the sacred ganja weed. For his own set of reasons, though, President Cortizo, in an August 31 signing ceremony, decreed regulations to implement a medical marijuana law that the National Assembly passed nearly one year ago. Photo by the Presidencia.

Medical marijuana now legal and regulated, but…

by Eric Jackson

President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen has finally signed the regulations to implement a law that the legislature passed and which was duly published in the Gaceta Oficial on October 13, 2021. With this, Cortizo boasts that Panama has one of the strongest sets of regulations in the region and that it will “give relief to thousands of patients who have waited for this solution for long years.” The fine print we will be able to read shortly, when the regulations are officially published.

There will be licenses and registrations that will need to happen before the law takes effect. Marijuana and its derivatives will be legal for therapeutic, medical, veterinary, scientific and research purposes.

Stepping well beyond the modest initial legislative proposal, so will the cultivation and processing of cannabis for these purposes. The original proposed law, now enshrined as Law 242 of October 13, 2021, had maintained the ban on cultivation and processing. Some farmers, economists, industrialists and media people who do more that just publish tales of law enforcement victories in “The War on Drugs” had urged Cortizo to at least create some productive jobs rather than entirely depend on imported products.

Anyone who is to legally produce, distribute or use cannabis or its derivatives will have to get the government’s permission. Cortizo said that the new regulations will protect the privacy of those who use medical marijuana, which is approved for treating a list of maladies that we shall see when the rules are published. These include Alzheimer’s, problems associated with cancer treatments, autism, HIV / AIDS and arthritis. Although not specified in the announcement, it would be hard to imagine that they would not include glaucoma, the high eyeball pressure that can make a person go blind.

There will be a National Directorate for the Monitoring of Activities Related to Medicinal Cannabis to oversee compliance with all of the rules, and a National Program for the Study and Medicinal Use of Cannabis with which patients will have to enroll to be legal. The Directorate will be under the umbrella of the Ministry of Public Security and apparently goes much heavier on law enforcement than medical people. Nito’s announcement made this cryptic reference to “ministry liaisons specialized in security.” Does that mean a US Drug Enforcement Administration’s attaché at the Embassy here? We may see, although if this is the case Washington may want to keep that information classified.


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