Panama City (AFP) – Panama plans to supply domestic demand and become an exporter of medical cannabis. With a new regulated law, local patients celebrate this possibility and businessmen take accounts.
Luris Higuera, 48, suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and has been illegally obtaining cannabis oil for his treatment for four years, bringing it hidden in his suitcase every time he travels abroad.
“For so many years that drug was out of reach for us, it was demonized, restricted, we are seeing a new boom, and I want to be sure that all Panamanians are going to have it,” he said.
That remedy took her away from the cane and the intense pain. Arthritis has no cure, but there is relief.
“I lived sad and sometimes they called me bitter but one cannot be happy with pain. My life has changed, that of my family has changed, that of my caregiver has changed and that of my friends. It is not only the patient but everything that is behind the patient,” he added.
Luris leads the Fundación Buscando Alternativas, which promotes safe access to medicinal cannabis. He carries a small bottle with the oil in his bag, the droplets of which are applied under the tongue during a break from Latam Cann Biz that brought together foreign entrepreneurs from the industry.
“That Panama can export, that element that included export and import is very valuable throughout the world. Here there are people from Canada, from Germany, from the Netherlands, which are markets that need imports,” said Noemi Pérez. , president of the Puerto Rico MedCann Bizz.
Although countries such as Uruguay, Colombia or Puerto Rico are already advanced in the region, entrepreneurs see Panama as a strategic point.
A law approved in 2021 and that was regulated last week, begins to open the way for the industry in the country.
“Our intention is to promote, in the medium and long term, the establishment of local and foreign companies that can supply the domestic market, using raw material produced in Panama,” said President Laurentino Cortizo, when regulating the law.
Article 15 of the regulation contemplates an export plan in one year.
“Panama has all the opportunities to become a hub from the point of view of cannabis pharmacy, at a Latin American and global level,” commented Ingrid Schmidt, who led the business event in Panama.
It highlights the geographical positioning, the experience in logistics management and its currency, the dollar, as facilitators of operations.
The Argentine Lucas Nosiglia, president of Avicanna Latam, a Canadian biotechnology firm, sees Panama as strategic to industrialize and export the product and not to cultivate it.
“I see it more at the level of the chemical industry, manufacturing and logistics (… ) the focus has to be on added value, in the process of industrialization, maquila, registration, export,” said Nosiglia, whose firm has crops in Colombia. .
“I think that Panama does not have the most optimal conditions for large-scale crops. Yes, there will be crops in Panama, but they will be more indoor crops, more controlled, necessary,” he said.
The expectation of investment grows with the recent regulation of the law.
“The regulation has aroused even more all that curiosity in the business sector of wanting to see, not only if they want to be directly with this business, but to know from their businesses how they can be inserted,” Schmidt explained.
Benefits for patients
Carlos Ossa, 38, is a multiple sclerosis patient and medical cannabis activist, with whom he has been dealing for five years.
In the first year of regulation of the law “3,000 patients may be registered, but I assure you that this will increase,” he said.
“This is public health (…) In addition, there are many people interested in creating jobs, putting an economy to work, an economy that is quite affected,” he considered.
The protagonists of this are doctors, patients, economists, lawyers, farmers, athletes, children with epilepsy, even grandparents with pain.
For Dr. Ericka Stahl, a functional physician specializing in cannabis, in “Panama it will be possible to apply every new thing, every new study that comes out, due to the robust regulations we have.”
The expert specified that the dose and the way it is administered depends on the patient. It is not always in oils, also in lotions or inhalation. Always balancing the compounds.
“The harmony of all the compounds in the plant is what gives us the perfect medicine for the person in front of me, depending on their medical history and needs,” he said.
“Social stereotypes no longer apply if they ever did. I think the protagonists of this are doctors, patients, economists, lawyers, farmers, athletes, children with epilepsy, even grandparents in pain,” added Ossa.