Housewife Cecilia Heyder From Chile is the First Legal Marijuana Patient in Latin America

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By Indrani Bhattacharyya | August 14, 2014 1:19 PM EST

A housewife from Chile, Cecilia Heyder who is suffering from breast cancer and lupus is likely to be the first person to be legally prescribed medical marijuana in Latin America.

According to the report by Global Post, Heyder was granted special permission by Chile’s Institute for Public Health to use Sativex, a cannabis-derived painkiller which will improve her painful health status.

Reuters
Danielle Hackett prepares marijuana buds for sale at BotanaCare in Northglenn, Colorado December 31, 2013.

Hyader, a 48-year-old woman with two children got diagnosed with systemic lupus in 2009, which was followed by breast cancer diagnosis in 2011.

As the agony became unbearable, based on a doctor’s advice, she started taking cannabis in 2013.

With her first shipment of Sativex from the UK still few more weeks away, she is presently on the soft drug that she takes through infusions, in food and by smoking joints.

Though none of these is permitted by Chilean law.

“It is a very significant step. This is the first time that the Chilean state formally recognizes the use of medicinal marijuana,” said Ana Maria Gazmuri, president of the Daya Foundation.

In cases of cancer, AIDs, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, cannabis or its derivatives are used to soothe the intense pain but in some conditions, the drug can be used to prevent symptoms like epileptic seizures.

A little polling took place in Latin America and medical marijuana got great public support. In Mexico, 73 per cent rate of approval was found, a study suggested.

The main concern and problem in legalisation of this process remains with the anticipation that weeds grown for medicinal purposes could end up being utilised for recreation.

Rony Munoz, the doctor from Chile’s National Cancer Institute who prescribed Sativex to Heyder, stated “It’s born out of fear that the medicines will be diverted to recreational use. We have seen that in California, but this is very different.”

“The fears are exaggerated,” Munoz was quoted saying.

Even though, Heyder has been granted permission to use Sativex, a new law needs to be implemented to allow the public health system to pay for it. The process will take at least two months more and with Sativex treatment costing up to $3,000 monthly, its completely unaffordable to her.

Gazmuri suggested that Chile should also encourage marijuana research and the production of medicines locally to bring the price down.

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(Photo: Reuters / Rick Wilking)
Danielle Hackett prepares marijuana buds for sale at BotanaCare in Northglenn, Colorado December 31, 2013.
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