Peruvian Health Minister Zumela Tomas has unveiled a framework for the country’s new medicinal cannabis industry after more than a year of deliberations.

The government decided to legalize medicinal marijuana in November 2017 with the passing of Law No. 30681, but it has only just published the regulation this week. Now Tomas has revealed what Peru’s new medicinal market will look like after declaring that 7,596 patients across the country need cannabis urgently.

The Ministry of Health has decided to subsidize the medication for those in need, and it can be prescribed at a number of clinics around the country. Laboratories and pharmaceutical centres are being developed across Peru, producing a range of derivatives for medical use.

Following a 14-month wait, licensed doctors can prescribe cannabis to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, neuropathic pain, side effects of chemotherapy, and other ailments. The Ministry of Health is now beginning a scheme to train doctors about how to prescribe cannabis and educate them about its manifold benefits.

The UK recently legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, but the industry is yet to take off as strict guidelines prevent doctors from prescribing it to all but a handful of patients, while little has been done to educate them. The initiatives underway in Peru should hopefully prevent a similar situation from arising.

Peru is the fourth largest country in South America, with a population of 32 million people, and it is the 39th largest economy in the world by total GDP. It, therefore, represents a significant opportunity for the global marijuana industry and several big North American companies are targeting it as they make significant inroads into the continent.

One company bidding to become a leading light in Peru’s nascent industry is Canada’s Plena Global. Its director of government affairs and partnerships in South America, Rafael Canovas Newell, said:

We want Peru to position itself as a leading country in the medicinal Cannabis industry. For that to happen in our country, all steps from seed to sale must be deployed with the highest standards, the best technology, proper personnel and of course with all compliance matters in place.

The lobbying group Esperanza Mothers, which campaigned for legalization of medical marijuana in Peru, said the new guidelines were a step in the right direction, but urged the government to go one step further and permit personal cultivation.