Peruvians buy all of the South American country’s medical cannabis supply

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Just three months since Peru’s medical cannabis industry launched, stock has already dried up. While this is good news in the sense that patients are lapping up the opportunity to obtain plant-derived medicinal products, it is bad news for in-need patients who may now be forced to buy from the black market. 

Sales of medical cannabis in Peru kicked off in December of last year, when the Peruvian General Directorate of Medicines, Supplies and Drugs (DIGEMID) began selling cannabis-based medicines inside one of its institutional pharmacies.

There is currently no “single, formal way to access medical cannabis” in Peru, wrote Francesca Brivio on her Facebook page. Brivio, who is a spokesperson for a Peruvian patients association, is one of many people who took to the social networking site to express concerns about a lack of pharmacy-sold cannabis in Peru.

Supply issues pose a problem for doctors and the officials who are in charge of Peru’s medical cannabis industry, since illicitly-operating dealers aren’t overly concerned about their products containing pesticides and other potentially harmful substances. Legal medical cannabis in Peru, on the other hand, is tightly regulated and tested inside laboratories to ensure patient safety.

Medical cannabis in Peru: Government purchased 10 liters of oil to kick-start sales 

An Oregon-headquartered supplier of CBD oil succeeded in applying to supply Peru with medical cannabis. Anden Naturals won the partnership over two major Canadian cannabis companies — Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis and Toronto-based Pharmacielo. The winning company sold 10 liters of its product to the agency; the oil had a potency close to five percent. 

Soon after acquiring the oil, DIGEMID started selling it to patients who were in possession of a prescription; priced at 47.70 soles – equivalent to $ USD – per 10-milliliter bottle. A total of 27,868 Peruvian soles – equivalent to $8,390 USD – secured the entire purchase of Peru’s medical cannabis supply. Unfortunately, DIGEMID failed to anticipate that Peru’s medical cannabis market would attract such a colossal level of interest during its early stages and, ultimately, patient demand wasn’t met. 

Licensing process for cannabis cultivators in Peru is slacking

Lack of medical cannabis in Peru is an indication that patients are enjoying having access to the therapeutic plant. However, since there is also a lack of licensed producers, patients have nothing to fall back on now that DIGEMID has sold all of its stock. 

According to the executive director of Lima-based ACM Peru – an agriculture business consultancy and management agency – Andrés Vazquez, the regulatory framework that exists for medical cannabis in Peru provides private companies with the opportunity to obtain licenses; a requirement to import, supply and produce medicinal-grade weed for Peruvians. 

“I don’t understand why regulators haven’t issued any licenses. Instead, they’ve focused their efforts on having a government supply, of only one product, available in only one government pharmacy in the whole country and only during a couple of months,” said Vazquez. “This is clearly not enough for patients. The only real solution is that authorities implement the already existing laws and regulations.”

On the plus side, more licenses for medical cannabis in Peru are expected to be issued soon. This was confirmed by CEO of Anden Naturals, Curt Schwarz. During an interview with MJBizDaily, he said that the company expects “import licenses to be issued very soon so that we can guarantee product for patients who have already begun treatment.”

Moreover, with Khiron poised to get involved in Peru’s medical cannabis market very soon, it’s likely that stock will be replenished and maintained in the future.