Latin America & Caribbean

Chile lawmakers approve marijuana decriminalisation bill

on July 7, 2015 Chile's lower house of Congress approved a bill to allow Chileans to grow small amounts of marijuana for recreational or spiritual use. The measure still must go before a health commission and be approved by the Senate.
Image caption Chilean law already allows medical use of marijuana with government approval

A bill which will allow Chileans to grow small amounts of marijuana for medical, recreational or spiritual use has been approved by the country's lower house of Congress.

The measure will allow each Chilean home to grow up to six plants.

Up to now, planting, selling and transporting marijuana has been punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The new bill will go before a health commission and then the Senate for approval.

Members of the lower house approved the bill by a wide margin, with 68 in favour and 39 against.

However, some lawmakers criticised the result, saying it would encourage drug use.

Growing trend

A Chilean municipality began planting the country's first medical marijuana in October, as part of a government-approved pilot programme.

However this bill, if passed, will also decriminalise recreational use.

Several other countries have eased restrictions for medical or personal use of marijuana in recent years.

In the US, more than 20 states allow some form of medical marijuana and Colorado and Washington have legalised it for personal use.

Uruguay became the first country to create a legal marijuana market in 2013 and earlier this year Jamaica decriminalised personal use of the drug.

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