This past Thursday, Peru’s conservative Congress passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana. The vote was a landslide at 68-5 in favor of allowing oil from the plant to be produced, imported, and commercialized. This movement for legal marijuana stemmed from Peruvian mothers that wanted access to safer medicine.

Ana Alvarez, a mother of four from Lima, converted part of her home into a cannabis laboratory. Ms. Alvarez also takes informal visits from other patients and prescribes them marijuana derivatives to help curb debilitating conditions. Ms. Alvarez’s passion started when her son Anthony was suffering from multiple daily seizures. Cannabis was the only solution to stopping the seizures. That was when Ana decided to start helping others heal in Peru.

Ana talked about her son’s experience with cannabis, “After three days of taking marijuana oil, Anthony started to reconnect with life, he began to socialize, he began to sleep, he began to eat and little by little he started to recover,” she said. “The change after three days was something extraordinary and from that moment my fight began.”

Ana was not alone with her fight, Dorothy Santiago’s five-year old son was suffering from the same conditions as Anthony. Ana and Dorothy decided to form Buscando Esperanza (Searching for Hope), which advocates for medical marijuana. The group has grown to over 200 members. Buscando Esperanza and others have protested in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. The group protested outside the Interior Ministry in Lima,Peru earlier in the year, One supporter had a sign that said, “give me back my medicine, do not let me die.”

Following a police raid on a Buscando Esperanza lab, President Pablo Kuczynski proposed a new measure to legalize medical marijuana. This bill was passed at 68-5 in favor of allowing cannabis oil, not flowers, to be grown and distributed for medical purposes. Lawmaker Alberto Belaunde stated that regulations would be written within 60 days. The new rules will establish how cannabis oil should be produced and commercialized. Alberto commented, “Thousands of patients and their family members will have hope and a better quality of life.”

Medical cannabis has already been legalized in Peru’s neighboring countries like Chile and Colombia. Uruguay has also fully legalized the harvesting and distribution of recreational cannabis.

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