Officials in Uruguay are considering how legal marijuana may help those who suffer from various ailments.
Uruguay’s final rules for a regulated marijuana market are due out later this month. While the focus so far has been on recreational marijuana, Uruguayan Public Health undersecretary Leonel Briozzo confirmed that the health ministry is also considering marijuana’s medical potential in three main areas.
“Degenerative neurological diseases, where it is known it has a significant role, palliative care and pain management… and to reduce the consumption of other heavier drugs such as cocaine base,” he explained in an interview last Thursday.
Briozzo spoke from a United Nations summit in New York, where he presented on the process of drafting marijuana regulations.
Likewise, a forum of experts from Canada, Israel, the United States, Brazil and Spain met on Sunday to discuss medical marijuana at the headquarters of the Medical Union of Uruguay in Montevideo.
Spanish clinical psychologist José Carlo Bouso, one of the attendees, told El Observador that regulating marijuana provides the opportunity of “offering patients choices for cheap and safe treatments with which to alleviate their illnesses.”
Regulation also helps deepen research into the plant’s medical uses, he added.
While some pharmaceutical derivatives of the plant exist, Bouso said such treatments are often far more expensive. Sativex, for instance, costs around 400 euros for a month’s supply.
Uruguay is planning to fix the price of legal marijuana at $1 per gram to compete with the black market.
But it may be a while until Uruguay establishes a framework for medical marijuana. Earlier this year, the secretary of Uruguay’s drug board said that regulations for medical marijuana would come later than the April deadline because of the subject’s “greater complexity.”