Paraguay’s congress has agreed to begin a state-sponsored program to cultivate cannabis. The plan is to import seeds and grow domestically. The legislation is on track to being signed into law with no objections from any camp.

This is not the only victory for medical cannabis in Paraguay this year. In May, the Health Ministry was given the authority to import cannabis oil.

The landlocked country now joins Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru in recognising cannabis as medicine. In terms of reform, Uruguay currently leads the pack throughout the subcontinent. The country has legalized both recreational and medical use.

THE END OF THE DRUG WAR?

The South American drug war was one of the hallmarks of American foreign policy regionally for over 40 years. As cannabis has legalized north of the Rio Grande, however, positions are changing. Many in government see legalization as an antidote to the cartels.

Surprisingly, drug-related violence has not been a feature of Paraguay until recently. It is surprising for one big reason; Paraguay produces about 9% of the world’s total illicit cannabis crop. A Latin-American Turkish Express, in other words. Less than 1% of the population actually consumes the drug. The vast majority is produced for black market export. 80% of the country’s crop ends up in Brazil.

Paraguay South America Cannabis Legislation

That changed last year. The most powerful drug lord in the country was assassinated. Significant cartel-related violence has broken out over a subsequent territory grab. This in turn has drawn in international forces. Local authorities cannot handle the carnage on their own.

Legalization - even if purely medical - is being seen as a way to stem the violence. Half a world away, the Turkish government has recently done the same thing. And that is also cause for hope in a world where cannabis legalization has frequently stalled.

A GLOBAL EXPORT MARKET IS BEING BORN

One thing is very clear as 2017 comes to a close. Countries are choosing to accept the inevitability of medical cannabis in some form or another. Even if it is for one of several reasons. One is clearly the actual acceptance of the medical efficacy of cannabinoids. The other originates from a desire to quell violence from black market trade.

Whatever the reason, this is impetus for the global rescheduling of cannabinoids. There are many hiccups that can and will occur. However, recognition of the medical efficacy of cannabis is here to stay.

Who will be given access and when is the next big question. Where and how cannabis will produced and sold is another piece of the conversation. Domestic production facilities mean additional reform will be sure to follow.

The year 2017 saw a major international shift on the cannabis front. More countries are both legalizing and moving forward with domestic cultivation. And that is major cause for holiday cheer.

DOMESTIC PRODUCTION IS ON THE RISE

2018 will begin on a high note for reform. For the first time, there will be a global community of legal cultivators. This in turn means rapid advances for the industry. Grow-tech is one of them, as is experimentation with new strains.

Research will also be on an upward trend as national laboratories finally prioritise cannabinoid research for a wealth of chronic and acute human conditions.

GOOD OMENS FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE

The Paraguayan congress’ decision in itself is positive. But it is also a sign of something else that is even more exciting; it means that the majority of countries in the Western hemisphere are now in the column of medical use. This is also happening at a time when Europe has already made the shift. As momentum continues to build, the coming year will reveal which countries are ready to stay the course.

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