• Peru’s Congress legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes last week
  • Cannabis oil will now be legal to produce, import and sell
  • The proposal to decriminalise the drug came after police raided a makeshift laboratory where a group of women made cannabis oil for their sick children

Peru has become the largest country in the world with access to legal medical marijuana,

after a bill decriminalizing the use of cannabis oil was passed in Peru’s conservative Congress last week.

Peru joins other South and Central American countries Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina who have legalised the drug for medicinal and scientific purposes.

Winning the vote with a large majority, 68-5, the bill will be written into law in 60 days once ministers have decided on the regulations for producing and selling cannabis.

Discussing the vote, ruling party lawmaker Alberto Belaunde said: “Thousands of patients and their family members will have hope and a better quality of life.

“This is a historic moment and my dream is that empathy and evidence can continue to defeat fears and prejudices.”

The bill was proposed by Peru’s President, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, following a police raid on a makeshift laboratory producing cannabis oil, run by a group of heroic mothers, “Buscando Esperanza” (Searching for Hope), who turned to cannabis to treat their epileptic children.

Dental technician Ana Alvarez, 43, founded the Searching For Hope after seeing a rapid improvement in her 17-year-old epileptic son’s condition after swapping his pharmaceutical drugs for cannabis oil.

Peru mother cannabis

Ana Alvarez prepares cannabis for her son

Anthony, Ana’s son, suffers a rare and severe form of epilepsy, called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, as well as tuberous sclerosis, which causes tumours to grow on the brain and other organs. Before cannabis, he was suffering up to 7 life-threatening seizures a day.

Speaking to The Guardian after the raid, Ana explained how cannabis helped her son and inspired her to risk her freedom for her child’s health:

“After three days of taking marijuana oil, Anthony started to reconnect with life, he began to socialise, he began to sleep, he began to eat, and little by little he started to recover.

“The change after three days was something extraordinary and from that moment my fight began.”

Peru Mothers protesting for access to medical cannabis

Peruvian Mothers, Search For Hope, protesting for access to medical cannabis

Discussing the announcement, Ana explained why the bill may not be as beneficial as it may seem on paper: “We’re very happy with the fact that Peruvian law has approved this. But we’re not totally satisfied.”

Expressing fears that the new bill, which only allows strictly regulated local production of cannabis oil, excluding organisations like Searching For Hope, Ana added: “We want associations like ours to be included in the production of this natural medicine.”

“Thousands of patients and their family members will have hope and a better quality of life.”
– Alberto Belaunde, ruling party lawmaker. 

Ana also voiced her concerns that the new bill could price-out a lot of the poorest members of Peruvian society.

Homemade oil from Searching For Hope is produced at a fraction of the cost than it will cost the government. Personally making cannabis oil allows patients to personalize their medication to tailor their specific medical condition, something which could be eradicated with the new bill.

The exact laws and regulations surrounding medical marijuana in Peru will now be discussed by ministers over the next 60 days.

The tireless work from the heroic mothers at Searching For Hope undoubtedly fueled the move to legalise medical cannabis in Peru. Could the same be true for the UK?

With courageous mothers appearing on national TV, such as Callie Blackwell and Charlotte Cadwell, to discuss how they “saved” their children with cannabis, could a similar progress be made in the UK?