By Federico Quilodran
Chile's Supreme Court ruled Friday that the government unconstitutionally revoked a company's permit to grow medical marijuana.
But a lawyer for the government said Chile remains a long way from allowing the production and sale of marijuana for therapeutic purposes.
The court ruled unanimously that Chile's agriculture service unfairly canceled the permit it granted Agrofuturo in 2009 to cultivate marijuana for therapeutic products. The service based its cancellation last year on a health service prohibition against including marijuana in pharmaceutical products.
"We find ourselves very happy" with the ruling, Agrofuturo owner Alvaro Gomez told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the city of Los Angeles in Chile's southern Bio Bio region, where the marijuana would be grown.
Gomez declined to comment further.
The judges focused their decision on due process requirements, and didn't make broader statements inviting a medical marijuana boom in Chile. It is legal in Chile to consume marijuana alone on private property, but against the law to consume it in groups or grow it without a government permit.
When the company applied for its permit, it laid out plans to sell the marijuana to be drunk as infusions, in bags similar to tea, and said that whether its sale would require a doctor's prescription would be determined by Chile's Public Health Institute.
The institute, however, clarified this year that producing, transporting and distributing marijuana remains prohibited in Chile and that legal use would be permitted only as part of scientific research. Jorge Correa, a lawyer for the agricultural service, says the health institute still has the last word on marijuana production.
The Chilean courts in 2005 absolved a woman who grew and consumed marijuana inside her home to ease pain from arthritis and rheumatism, but that ruling also failed to set a precedent for a medicinal marijuana industry.
The Associated Press