Last week the Argentinian Minister of Health announced plans to broaden the scope of its medical cannabis programme, three years on from establishing a regulatory framework for the medical and scientific use of cannabis.
The draft regulations have not been published in the official gazette yet but were presented by the minister in a meeting with key stakeholders. The government is listening to demands from patients and advocacy groups, in order to allow patients to home-grow medical cannabis and share crops among multiple patients.
Most importantly, the list of allowed indications of medical cannabis will be expanded to include all patients which could benefit from cannabis treatment and the number of specialists registered to prescribe cannabis will also be increased.
In practice, this will drastically increase accessibility and has the potential to set the stage for the sustained growth in patient penetration as observed in other nascent markets like Germany or Australia, where over two-thirds of the prescriptions are for chronic pain.
Since legalisation, German imports have increased in a turbulent growth pattern.In 2018, total German imports of medical cannabis flowers reached 3.1 tonnes, doubling in 2019 to over 6.7 tonnes. German imports of cannabis flowers in H1 2020 reached 4.1 tonnes showing a 63% increase compared to H1 2019, although no single quarter in 2020 has reached the peak of Q3 2019.
During this period, Germany requested an additional ton of medical cannabis exports from the Netherlands as the country was facing supply shortages and believed that the nation’s domestic production would not be available until early 2021, driving the drastic rise in imports.
Three pathways to the supply of medical cannabis are proposed:
- Special importation, as had been occurring with CBD since the 2017 law was approved. On top of the import of finished products, the Minister announced that importation of raw materials to be further compounded in a magistral pharmacy, will also be allowed, aligning the Argentinian model with many European schemes, like Germany.
- Allowing self-cultivation of medical cannabis at home under authorisation for patients included in a special registry. Collective growing by associations will also be allowed.
- State-controlled production of cannabis oil, although the details of this scheme are still unclear.
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