Late last week, Paraguay’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare announced that it will soon begin to process applications for the licensing of cannabis production, industrialization, and commercialization—strictly for medical and research purposes.
The move comes on the heels of the establishment of a national program in 2017 (that was not regulated until 2018), through which qualifying participants were guaranteed free access to “hemp oil” and other cannabis derivatives. In addition to the national program, a few individuals were granted “exceptional authorizations” to import cannabis-based products for medical purposes, including an adolescent with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a rare and severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy.
The production of cannabis products in Paraguay has the potential to help patients avoid the need to import costly products from abroad.
At a press conference in Asunción on Thursday, the Ministry indicated that all interested applicants must submit their paperwork between October 1 – 31 to the National Health Surveillance Agency. Among other things, applicants will be expected to supply a certificate of good manufacturing practices; cultivation, transportation, and security plans; and, if applicable, a plan for exports.
The country’s Secretary of State also signaled that 2% of the selected companies’ production will go directly to the Ministry. This will be utilized to provide cannabis to patients with a “scientifically-proven” need free of charge. Thus far, the medical use of cannabis has been approved to treat refractory seizures, as well as for patients who suffer from epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and pain that has “some scientific support.”
According to Julio Mazzoleni, who heads the Ministry, the companies that receive licenses will be obligated to use them within 24 months.
It is very important, he added, that the domestic production of cannabis be carried out for “medical indications that are scientifically proven.” The products that will ultimately be in the hands of the Ministry, Mazzoleni added, “will be of great benefit to Paraguay,” which has a population of about seven million people.