Panama legalized medical marijuana use on Monday, joining at least seven other Latin American countries.
After a five-year struggle, Panama’s national assembly unanimously passed Bill 153 during the bill’s third debate. Some members of the assembly shared that they were swayed by the initiative’s motto, “for a day without pain.”
National Assembly President Crispiano Adames, joined by Marcos Castillero, championed Bill 153 to promote and ensure responsible access to medicinal cannabis products. He said that the bill was drafted in a way that seeks to prevent future smuggling by requiring a controlled environment. Adames believes the new law’s most significant achievement will be providing relief to deserving patients.
The new medical marijuana use law prohibits commercial use of homegrown cannabis. Additionally, the bill requires officials to import cannabis in pill and liquid drop form. Panama’s Ministry of Health will be charged with distributing the medication to licensed pharmacies. To become licensed, pharmacies must apply for a permit and pass a site inspection.
Marie Millard of the LUCES Panama Foundation hopes that the legal right to use marijuana for medical purposes will improve the lives of patients who currently rely on multiple ineffective medications. The LUCES foundation provides emergency medicine to patients with epilepsy because, according to their website, about 40 to 50 percent of Panama’s epilepsy patients do not have access to medicines. Millard believes medical marijuana use will alleviate patients’ symptoms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chemo-induced nausea, and chronic pain.