A step forward for Panama
With this latest decision to provide a new framework and regulations for medical cannabis, Panama joins the list of Latin American countries that have already legalised it before, such as Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay and Mexico. As a result of this recent law, Panama's Ministry of Health is now in charge of issuing licences for the manufacture and sale of cannabis-based medicines, which are then subject to rigorous controls. The same law also provides for the creation of a register for patients authorised to use medical cannabis in the context of their illness. The register will contain essential information such as the dosage required for each patient and the doctors authorised to prescribe the products in question.
An imperfect law, but above all one that can be improved
In general, cannabis advocates applaud the effort made by the Assembly to legalise cannabis for therapeutic use. Nevertheless, most of them are still wary of certain provisions that they consider too coercive and have expressed their disagreement with them. For example, they deplore the fact that the law sets a limit of seven licences that can be issued five years after its promulgation, in order to be able to closely monitor the development of this new market on a national scale. However, according to Raúl Fernández, a member of parliament and promoter of the bill, this number is not fixed and will tend to evolve gradually according to needs. Well aware of the road ahead, he wants to stress that this law is a necessary first step towards a more flexible and favourable framework for patients who wish to treat themselves with medical cannabis. After several attempts to pass such a bill in the country, including a first time in 2017 and another in October 2019, the fact that this one was passed unanimously on 30 August is more than encouraging.