Ecuador Legalizes Medical Marijuana as South America Goes Green with Cannabis
Ecuador recently joined the list of countries that have reformed their use of cannabis for its medicinal and recreational properties. Other countries include Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Colombia in South America and Canada, the District of Columbia in the United States, and the Australian Capital Territory in Australia.
Ecuador has become the fifth South American country to legalize the use of medicinal cannabis as a result of the government’s decision. It finally joins its neighboring countries—Colombia and Peru—in the legal cultivation, processing, and sales of medicinal cannabis.
It appears South America is increasingly becoming a worldwide region for the production, manufacturing, and exportation of medicinal cannabis to other parts of the world with lower production rates. By 2028, it has been predicted that the South American market for cannabis will have a value projected at $12.7 billion. Medicinal cannabis is expected to generate at least $8.5 billion in projected value alone. This projection might be exceeded as other countries are expected to legalize the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis-derived products within the next year.
Ecuador’s Law Reforms
Ecuador is a South American country with Columbia, Peru, Brazil, and the Pacific on its borders to the north, south, east, and west, respectively.
According to the country’s existing laws, it is not a crime to consume drugs, cannabis included. But the consumption of cannabis was perceived to have an adverse effect on the health of the citizens. Ecuadorian citizens were only authorized to consume cannabis personally and possess up to 10 grams. However, the commercial production and sales of cannabis were prohibited and remained illegal.
This latest development of legalizing medical cannabis has been in the works since 2016, when Ecuadorian lawmakers first proposed to reform the cannabis industry. It was not legalized for medicinal use until 2018, when the National Assembly voted on the measure. The majority won by a landslide, 83-23, with 23 lawmakers absent.
To further strengthen the bill, rectifications were made to the Organic Health Code (COS), also called Article 340. Hence, the exclusion of marijuana from the list of illegal plants and the regulation of medicinal cannabis products. This means that the production, marketing, and consumption of medical cannabis is now legal!
It is essential to point out that the Ecuadorian administration demands that in the production of medical cannabis, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of the seed strains should have a percentage below 1%.
The Ministry of Health has been granted the power to approve licenses for plantations that pass the requirements. Firms would be authorized to produce and manufacture cannabis for five years once licensed by the Ministry of Health. The medical professional body, which includes doctors, has also been tasked by the Ecuadorian government to observe with critical care while prescribing and administering these drugs to patients in the country.
A New Dawn For Ecuadorian Cannabis Operators
Last Tuesday, Ecuador-based AYA Natural and Medical Products became the first cannabis manufacturing and processing company to begin the commercial production of cannabis.
The inauguration ceremony, held last week, was attended by notable names in the Production, Investment, Fisheries, and Foreign Trade Ministries. Officials from the Ecuadorian Institute of Popular and Solidarity Economy were also in attendance, as was the Deputy Minister of Industries and Production.
The federal government of Ecuador is intentional about its goal of mass-producing medical cannabis for export. The appearance of senior and junior government officials at the launch of the AYA GMP production site showed the government is making coordinated efforts for its domestic medical cannabis industry to thrive.
Ideal Environment For Cultivation.
Latin America’s climate is known to have the perfect conditions for crop production, and this is due to the fact that the continent is near the equator. This proximity creates an optimal temperature for the cultivation of cannabis products throughout the year. It is a known fact that the life cycle of a cannabis plant is about three months. This means the plant can be planted comfortably at least twice in a year—thanks to the favourable weather.
Countries in South American countries like Uruguay, Chile, and Brazil that have legalized the production of medicinal cannabis are known to supply a more significant number of cannabis products than their counterparts in Northern America.
Ecuador is a country in Latin America that enjoys these ideal conditions. It has fertile soil that is rich in nutrients due to volcanic activity that occurred in the past in the region.
In addition to these ideal environmental conditions, Ecuador also has a favorable coastline and a large number of ports that will play a huge part in the exportation of medicinal and recreational cannabis products to the United States of America (which is considered the largest consumer of cannabis products) and other parts of the world.
Agriculture plays a huge part in the GDP of the Ecuadorian economy, creating a 10% higher contribution than other countries in Latin America. Therefore, the country is fully prepared for its agricultural sector to dive into the cultivation of cannabis crops.
The Next Big Commodity Crop
All indicators show that cannabis could be the primary commodity crop for the new developing world. The medical and recreational cannabis markets in legal countries and states are a focal point for economic improvement. As more countries continue to legalize the drug, it won’t be surprising to see medical cannabis flooding global markets.
In Central and South American legal cannabis countries, they are moving to create demand for their cannabis products within the European and Israeli markets. Ecuador will join these countries once it has sufficient produce to export.
Ecuador has finally switched gears on its cannabis industry, despite being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In no time, Ecuador-based medical cannabis companies will pick up the pace to produce enough cannabis drugs to meet the demands of registered patients. The country will most likely issue more licenses within the next month to businesses that applied.
The organized strategy being utilized by the country to become a major player in the global medical cannabis industry is commendable, to say the least. Residents are assured of an improved economy amid other excellent results that will spurt from the now-active sector.