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Panama: Medicinal Cannabis Bill Passed

On August 30, 2021, Panama’s National Legislative Assembly announced that it had approved a bill regulating the medicinal use of cannabis. According to a press release issued by the Assembly, supporters of the bill with expertise on the medical uses of cannabis had stated that the use of cannabis would provide relief to individuals who suffer from a number of medical conditions, including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, nausea caused by chemotherapy, and chronic pain. Some patients reportedly have had to smuggle cannabis products into the country to treat such ailments in the absence of a legal option. To address this issue, the approved bill provides that Panama’s Ministry of Health (MOH) will have the authority to issue licenses (valid for 10 years and renewable) to manufacture and commercialize cannabis medicinal products, which will be subject to strict control systems. Accordingly, the MOH will have the duty to establish a registry of patients whose conditions require treatment with cannabis products, which must include pertinent information such as required dosage, frequency of treatment, and physicians authorized to prescribe cannabis medications. This information is to be kept confidential.  The bill provides that during the first five years after it is passed into law, the MOH is to approve a maximum of seven manufacturing licenses, which will allow the MOH to monitor the gradual development of the market for these products. Furthermore, the bill provides that the Ministry of Agriculture, in coordination with the MOH, has the authority to issue permits to license holders to grow cannabis plants for the manufacturing of cannabis medicinal products. Authorized growers can also import cannabis seeds and plants. The approved bill must now be signed into law by the president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo. Thereafter, pertinent regulations will be issued within 90 days.

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