icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

High time: Legalization of cannabis in Chile moves a step closer

High time: Legalization of cannabis in Chile moves a step closer
Chile has moved a step closer to legalizing marijuana after the country’s lower house passed a bill that would allow small amounts of the drug to be used. However, a health commission and the Senate still need give approval before it become law.

The bill would allow residents of the South American country to possess up to 10 grams of cannabis and grow up to six plants. The marijuana could be used for medical, recreational or spiritual use.

"We're celebrating the overwhelming approval of this project," Ana Maria Gazmuri, president of the Fundación Daya organization that supports pain-relieving therapies, said as cited by AP.

Christmas spirit: Chile police seize 6-foot-tall marihuana tree http://t.co/499a7dIq7spic.twitter.com/OWr3g76AX0

— RT (@RT_com) December 7, 2014

"This project is on the right path and we're optimistic that it will be passed quickly. It should go through the health commission in a month at most, and ideally it should be approved by the Senate in two months,” she said, after the lower house of Congress decided to pass the bill - 68 in favor and 39 against, with five abstentions.

The use of marijuana is currently illegal in Chile and those found guilty of planting, selling or transporting the drug can be sent to jail for up to 15 years.

There have been growing calls in Chile to legalize cannabis, with surveys indicating the consumption of marijuana is higher compared to any other country in South America, according to Reuters.

There is still some way to go until the law is passed. The bill needs to be approved by a health commission. If this body gives it the thumbs up, then the lower house and the Senate will vote on the issue.

Homegrown: Chile's 'marijuana moms' break law to ease their kids' epileptic pain http://t.co/4hsLpkpU3Fpic.twitter.com/w5vkIF2Q94

— RT (@RT_com) November 24, 2014

The vote is seen as important. Karol Cariola, a Communist politician and member of President Michelle Bachelet's leftist coalition, said as quoted by Reuters: “It is a historic day for medicinal users who wish to stop being persecuted and be able to access a medicine that they can grow in their gardens.”

A region in Chile began to plant marijuana under a government-approved scheme in October to see if cannabis could help with treating cancer patients.

However, the move towards legalization of marijuana has not proved to be universally popular in Chile, with some politicians saying it could lead to greater drug use, especially among the young.

"This is a bad project and authorities have been largely absent," said Sergio Espejo, a deputy for the center-right Christian Democratic Party, as cited by AP. "It hides the country's public health tragedy with the increase in the consumption of marijuana among young students."

In June last year, thousands of protesters marched through the capital Santiago to demand the legalization of cannabis. They cited the example of neighboring Uruguay, which officially legalized the drug in May, 2014.

Dear readers and commenters,

We have implemented a new engine for our comment section. We hope the transition goes smoothly for all of you. Unfortunately, the comments made before the change have been lost due to a technical problem. We are working on restoring them, and hoping to see you fill up the comment section with new ones. You should still be able to log in to comment using your social-media profiles, but if you signed up under an RT profile before, you are invited to create a new profile with the new commenting system.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and looking forward to your future comments,

RT Team.