Although socially conservative Chile is not following Uruguay’s lead on full legalisation it is considering decriminalising it for personal use and cultivation.
To loud cheers from the public gallery the lower house voted on Tuesday to push forward with the reform in general terms.
As it stands, the bill would allow the possession of up to 10 grammes (0.35 ounce) of cannabis and the growing of up to six plants.
But it still has some way to go to become law. A health committee will study the bill before the lower house votes again on each of the specific elements. It then passes to the senate.
Nonetheless the vote was important – communist lawmaker Karol Cariola – who is part of President Michelle Bachelet’s leftist coalition – told reporters.
‘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’ she said.
Santiago – Chile’s capital – was the site of Latin America’s first medical marijuana farm earlier this year. The country watched the experimental project with interest.
Surveys indicate that cannabis consumption is higher in Chile than in the rest of the region – while support among Chileans for drug legalisation is increasing.