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Cannabis has been dubbed the “golden opportunity” for Peru, but progress is lacking

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Cannabis advocates in Peru say creating a cannabis program – which does not exist now – is key to better aligning the country with international sustainable development goals and can drive economic development.

Proponents say opening a market for cannabis would attract investors, spur innovation and new technology while providing jobs and tax income for the government.

“Cannabis represents a golden opportunity to develop a new sustainable industry,” said Raul Ngoc, Peru’s ambassador to the Latin American Hemp Industrial Association, and could boost the fortunes of the 2.3 million small and medium-sized farms that make up the bulk of the country’s agricultural sector.

Restrictive rules

The current cannabis regulatory framework in Peru focuses exclusively on medicinal cannabis. Strict rules under this program require the non-floral hemp biomass to be destroyed, which costs time and money. Ngoc has proposed eliminating this part of the regulation as a first step in the development of the cannabis industry in Peru.

The authorities involved in the current medical cannabis program in Peru are led by the Ministry of Health, with support from the Ministry of Agriculture. The Directorate for Narcotics Control (DIRANDRO), which operates under the Ministry of the Interior, and the National Agricultural Health Service (SENASA), which is responsible for importing seeds and agricultural inputs, also have jurisdiction.

These agencies are also expected to play a role in managing the National Cannabis Program.

In the absence of a cannabis law, testing for Peruvian cannabis is limited to the textile, cosmetic and other topical products available by prescription only in certain pharmacies. Market regulations also allow the import of some hemp by-products including hulled hemp seeds for dietary supplements, but restrictions apply.

Stigma is still a problem

Incuk said initiatives sponsoring university-level studies have not progressed due to strict legal requirements and a general stigma against cannabis that has prevented students and professors from obtaining approval for this academic work.

The Peruvian medical cannabis law was approved in 2017 and entered into force in 2019. A subsequent cultivation law enacted in 2021 allows medical cannabis users to form associations to grow, extract, and process cannabis locally.

But with the increasingly stringent and costly requirements, only one such license has been granted and no other applications are under review, according to Ingok.

Peru currently imports medical cannabis from Colombia, Uruguay, Canada and the United States. There are 56 pharmacies that have licenses to distribute cannabis across the country.

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