Chilean pharmacies begin marijuana medicine sales in first for Latam

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SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Pharmacies in Chile’s capital Santiago will start selling cannabis-based medicines this week, the first time such treatments have been offered by drug stores in Latin America, the companies behind the launch said on Wednesday.

Canadian cannabis producer and distributor Tilray said it had partnered with local firm Alef Biotechnology, which is licensed by the Chilean government.

Chile legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2015 and is among a number of Latin American countries gradually loosening laws prohibiting the cultivation, distribution and consumption of cannabis.

“By importing Tilray’s medical cannabis products to Chile we intend to ease the suffering of those in need by offering pure, precise and predictable medical cannabis products,” Alef board president Roberto Roizman said in a statement.

Tilray’s T100 and TC100 products will be available at a number of pharmacies in Santiago initially, under prescription. The average sale price will be $310 for a treatment that lasts around a month, a spokesman said.

Up until this week, patients in Chile could only obtain medical marijuana by importing it or from a limited number of dedicated farms set up by a charity. Chile’s Congress is debating a bill that would allow people to grow their own plants.

Argentina and Colombia are following similar paths.

Uruguay became a global pioneer when it legalized the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana in late 2013. Pharmacies in the country will begin legal sales of recreational cannabis from July.

Reporting by Antonio de la Jara, Writing by Rosalba O’Brien; Editing by Andrew Hay