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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Playing catch-up in Latin America, Peru finally has a bill on cannabis

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A bill under review in the Peruvian parliament would exempt industrial hemp from the country’s drug laws and legalize cultivation and processing below the 1.0% THC limit.

Introduced by Congressman Luis Angel Aragon Carreño of Acción Popular, the law would legalize all parts of the cannabis plant, allowing it to be used in a wide range of products. While the flowers can be used to produce CBD, smokeable products are specifically prohibited in bill language.

The law will restructure the current cannabis regulatory framework in Peru that focuses exclusively on medical cannabis and prohibits Use the non-flowering parts of the cannabis plant. In addition to removing these restrictions, the proposed measure would remove cannabis from Peru’s Regulation on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, and create a government-supported cannabis program.

Peru passed a medical cannabis law in 2017, setting guidelines only late last year, but the country has fallen behind among other Latin American countries in developing a national cannabis industry.

“The opportunities for industrial cannabis are great,” but “this (current) law prevents the development of projects related to the medical industry that demonstrate the industrial benefits of this plant,” according to stakeholders who have joined in defense of the cannabis bill through an educational campaign and lobbying of lawmakers.

Parliamentarians are now consulting with agricultural and industry associations regarding the potential of hemp in sectors such as textiles, packaging, biodegradable plastics, feed and food, and assessing the industry’s potential to attract investment, create jobs and generate tax revenue.

Forecast

Recognizing the potential contribution of cannabis to the Peruvian economy, the bill notes that the local industry could generate an annual estimated income of $35 million, with approximately $23 million of that coming from CBD extracts.

Under the proposed law, licenses would be required for commercial cultivation and processing; Individuals will not be required to obtain licenses, but will need to prove the legal origin of any cannabis raw material used in their production.

The management will be under the supervision of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Irrigation (MIDAGRI), the Ministry of Production and the authorities responsible for other related sectors, which will establish specific regulations.

Issues under study

Ongoing consultations focus on crop monitoring by drug control authorities, seed sources, health protocols, environmental benefits, and opportunities to tap global carbon markets, according to an advocacy group led by Raúl Ngoc, Peru’s ambassador to Latin America. The Industrial Hemp Association, includes representation by both local and international organizations and companies.

While Peru has indigenous hemp genes, the local varieties are not proven to produce fiber or grain, the advocacy group noted, and recommended that hemp cultivation be based initially on certified cultivation seeds from Europe or China.

Support

The group also suggested that sequestering carbon dioxide and treating soil contaminated with heavy metals could also be positive outcomes for the evolving cannabis industry.

Under the bill, MIDAGRI and the Ministry of Production will advance development through training, promotion, research and support for entrepreneurs, with a particular focus on supporting small farmers and strengthening farming communities.

In other specific provisions in the bill:

  • Cultivation, cultivation, harvesting, post-harvest operations, storage, collection, transformation, transportation, processing, marketing, import and export of hemp and hemp-derived products are permitted.
  • It is permitted to produce “seeds, oils, dyes, resins, extracts, powder, flour, fibers and other outputs” that “can be used in the manufacture of food products for human or veterinary consumption, cosmetic products, building materials, energy and construction, in the textile industry, and any other form of manufacturing, manufacturing or production.”
  • Labeling of finished cannabis products intended for distribution and sales will be required to carry labels that specify that they contain less than 1.0% delta-9 THC.
  • A fund for the protection and control of cannabis crops will be created, with those activities managed by the Directorate for Narcotics Control of the National Police of Peru.
  • A registry of cannabis growers, manufacturers and importers will also be established.
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