By Steve Elliott
The Chilean government has granted permission to a nonprofit organization to grow 850 marijuana plants in a residential area of the capital city of Santiago.
The cannabis, which is being planted in La Florida, a district of the capital city, will be harvested next April and turned into oil which will be used as a painkiller for 200 cancer patients, reports Gideon Long at BBC News.
It's the first project of its kind with state backing anywhere in Latin American according to BBC. Much of the cannabis debate in the region has centered in Uruguay, which this year legalized marijuana, becoming the first nation in the world to do so.
In Chile, the authorities permit the use of cannabis only for medicinal purposes. "We don't want to get into a debate about the personal use of marijuana," said Mayor Rodolfo Carter of La Florida.
"Let's stick to the medical issue," Carter said. "This is about providing people who are suffering from cancer with a natural, healthier and cheaper treatment for their pain."
The local nonprofit Daya Foundation will oversee the project, which will be accompanied by a clinical study into the effectiveness of cannabis oil as a painkiller.
"Eventually, we want to make cannabis medicine available for everybody, even if they can't afford it," said Nicolas Dormal, cofounder of the foundation. "But for now, we will concentrate on these first 200 patients."