On Monday, Chile’s Congressional health committee opened up political debate in the country when it approved a bill to legalize the personal cultivation of up to 6 cannabis plants for recreational and medical use.
Influencing this atmosphere of change is the success of the Daya Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Chile that is celebrating a larger than expected crop from South America’s first medical cannabis grow which will treat 200 cancer patients.
Daya Foundation gardeners estimate that the 400 plants they have grown for the Municipality of La Florida (a suburb of the capital, Santiago) will yield approximately 120 kilos of dried bud. In the coming weeks, the bud will be transported, under police escort, to a laboratory, where scientists will begin to extract cannabis oil for use by medical patients.
The Daya Foundation made international news when it launched the ambitious programme in September. The seeds were provided by Dutch company Paradise Seeds, which became the first company to receive a Government license to export seeds to Chile.
The political moves towards changing the legal status of cannabis may take some time – with commentators predicting that the proposed changes will be debated in Congress in a process that could take years. However, the Daya Foundation is pushing ahead with plans to expand its medical programme, with the backing of the Public Health Institute.
Looking ahead to the next planting season (September) it intends to buy a new plot of land away from the city to benefit from cleaner air and more environmental control. It has also been having discussions with 15 Municipalities about the possibility of providing cannabis oil for medical patients in their districts.
Daya co-founder, Nicola Dormal, says, “We hope the next stage will involve 20 Municipalities which will fund their share of the grow. This way we can increase production and bring costs down. With 20 Municipalities involved, we would hope to produce enough cannabis oil to treat 4000 patients next year.”
The Daya Foundation grow almost didn’t happen at all. The organisation could not find a seed company willing to provide seeds (due to Chile’s import restrictions), until they contacted Luc Krol from Paradise Seeds. The company worked with Daya to gain a special Government license, allowing the import of 400 seeds including Paradise Seeds varieties, Wappa, Durga Mata and Ice Cream.
Luc Krol, commented.“We are proud to be involved with the Daya Foundation grow. They are following a medical cannabis path that is innovative, community minded and potentially a blueprint for other countries to follow.”
Check out Paradise Seeds in South America here.