4/20 And Cannabis In Chile: Street Fairs, Film Festivals And Senate Discussions On Legalization

Like so many large cities, the aroma of cannabis permeates the air in Santiago, Chile, especially today - April 20 - as organized and spontaneous celebrations pop up all over the city.

"4/20 in Santiago is becoming more popular every year...as the stigma lifts, so do our spirits,"  a young woman on her way to a pro-cannabis march in Santiago told Benzinga. "We're pushing for regulation of cannabis as a way to help our slumping economy."

Legal status of weed legal in Chile: In 2015, Chile legalized medical marijuana (MMJ) for patients with qualifying conditions including chronic pain, glaucoma and other conditions. Under the supervision of a recommending physician, MMJ patients can purchase cannabis-based remedies from authorized pharmacies regulated by the Chilean Institute of Public Health.

Chilean law also permits the cultivation, production and distribution of weed-based medicines by authorized companies. Indeed, Tilray TLRY announced in 2017 that it had received the necessary regulatory approvals in Canada and Chile to export MMJ for distribution to Chilean patients. MMJ patients can grow up to six cannabis plants for personal use. 

Politicians Moving Slowly - What Else Is New? 

In a recent attempt to get the legalization ball rolling, a group of advocates and politicians held a held a seminar in the Congressional Library of the Chilean Senate. Benzinga's head of content and CEO of El Planteo, Javier Hasse attended as guest speaker on the seminar's topic, Regulation of Cannabis and Its Impact on The Chilean Economy. "We discussed how the regulation of cannabis can help to recover economies in crisis," said Hasse, who told the seminar that increased tax revenues, job growth and investment opportunities are all powerful incentives to push for cananbis legalization.

Still Popular After All These Years

Despite restrictions, cannabis consumption in Chile has been popular for decades and the cannabis culture continues to grow. An expression of that can be seen in this week's opening of the International Cannabis Film Festival (FICC) in Santiago as part of the country's 4/20 celebrations.

"The idea is to break down prejudices and taboos around cannabis and promote discussion through art and culture,” said Alejo Araujo, director and general coordinator of FICC, which is featuring 17 films from 10 different countries and includes online programming for the Chilean audience.

Chile hosts several other annual cannabis-related events, including the Expoweed fair, which attracts thousands of attendees each year. The country also has a growing cannabis tourism industry, with many visitors coming to experience the cannabis culture, high quality weed and Chile's natural beauty. The combination is exquisite.

Photo courtesy of El Planteo


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