Cannabis law and legislation in Peru

Medical use

In general, Peruvian laws and regulations prohibit the growing, import and commercialisation of cannabis. Those activities are exclusively reserved for the Peruvian State when there are medical or scientific reasons that support such activities.

With Law N° 30681, enacted on November 2017, (“Cannabis Law”) the Peruvian State has recently allowed individuals and legal entities to use, investigate, produce, import and commercialise cannabis and its derivatives, which are destined exclusively for medical and therapeutic purposes.

The Regulations of Law N° 30681 (“Cannabis Regulations”) were published on February 2019. These regulations make a distinction among psychoactive cannabis and non-psychoactive cannabis based on the quantity of THC, where:

(i) Psychoactive cannabis: is defined as the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding seeds and leaves not attached to the top) of which the resin has not been extracted, whatever their denomination, whose content of THC is equal to or greater than 1% (dry weight), and that are destined for medical or therapeutic purposes, as palliative therapy for some diseases. Combusted use or smoking of psychoactive cannabis is excluded. This type of cannabis is designated as “cannabis for medical use”.

(ii) Non-psychoactive cannabis: is defined as the cannabis plant, and any part of such plant, whose content of THC is less than 1% (dry weight). This term is designated as “cáñamo” or “hemp”.

The consequences of the distinction are that:

  • activities related to “cannabis for medical use” are subject to the granting of licences for scientific research, import and/or commercialisation, and the production of such licences is regulated in the Cannabis Law and Cannabis Regulations.
  • activities related to “cañamo” or “hemp” are not within the scope of the Cannabis Law and the Cannabis Regulations and are therefore not subject to the granting of the licences referred therein. However, further regulation from the Ministry of Agriculture relating to the criteria and conditions to be met for the growth and industrialisation of “cañamo” or “hemp” are pending approval.
  • however, further regulation from the Ministry of Agriculture relating to the criteria and conditions to be met for the growth and industrialisation of “cañamo” or “hemp” are pending approval.

As to authorisation, Peruvian law provides for different types of licences. Licence for scientific investigation - to be granted in favour of universities and/or agriculture or health research institutions. Licence for import and trade - to be granted in favour of individuals or legal entities. Licence for production - to be granted exclusively in favour of public entities and certified laboratories.

Patients shall be registered in the “Registry of Patients that consume cannabis for medical and therapeutic purposes”. The commercialisation of products derived from cannabis should be in the charge of authorised pharmaceutical establishments, and the patient (registered in the Registry described above) should submit a special prescription issued by certified medical doctor.

Any violation to such law can be sanctioned with: (i) the cancellation of the licence granted; and/or (ii) any civil, administrative or criminal sanction that may correspond. In the case of (i) public servants granting licences irregularly, or (ii) medical doctors, pharmaceuticals, or any health professional, prescribing or facilitating cannabis to patients not duly registered (in the “Registry of Patients that consume cannabis for medical and therapeutic purposes”), criminal consequences will apply.

The Criminal Code of Peru, sanctions: (i) the acts of promotion, facilitation financing, or growing cannabis without the corresponding licence, with a prison sentence not less than eight years and no more than 15 years; and with a 180 to 365 day fine, and professional disqualification; and (ii) the act of trading and transferring seeds of cannabis without the corresponding licence, with a prison sentence of not less than five nor more than 10 years, and with a 120 to 180 day fine, and professional disqualification.

Recreational use

In Peru it is not possible to produce, sell and import cannabis for recreational use. The production, import and commercialisation of cannabis are only permitted for medical and therapeutic purposes.

However, activities related to “cañamo” or “hemp” are pending to be regulated and approved by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Industrial use

The permitted uses for industrial cannabis are limited to the production of cannabis (and its derivates) for medical and therapeutic purposes only.

As established by the Cannabis Regulations, the Ministry of Agriculture will define the criteria and conditions to be met in order to grow and industrialise “cañamo” or “hemp”.

None of the relevant law or regulations contain specific regulations concerning CBD concentrations. Although the Cannabis Law and the Cannabis Regulations make a distinction based on THC content, it is important to mention that existing regulations enacted before the Cannabis Law and the Cannabis Regulations that prohibit the growing, import and commercialisation of drugs and psychotropic substances (for uses other than medical and therapeutic) define cannabis in a very general way with no specific mention of CBD concentration or content. In addition, the Criminal Code, when typifying specific cannabis related crimes, does not consider there to be a distinction based on the quantity of THC or CBD.

Patentability

Applicable intellectual property laws and regulations provide that patents on inventions whose commercial exploitation should be prevented in order to protect public order or morality will not be granted (there is no specific mention of patents on inventions involving cannabis).

Considering that (i) the growth, use, import, commercialisation and production of cannabis (other than for medical and therapeutic purposes) is prohibited and has criminal consequences; and (ii) the only exception (for the application of criminal consequences to such activities) is that the growth, use, import, commercialisation and production of cannabis is duly licenced, (being the case that currently licensing requirements are still not approved); it is probable that the competent authority will not grant a patent based on the grounds that commercial exploitation of cannabis is currently not permitted and is criminally sanctioned.

However, there are some pending patent applications related to cannabis, requested from the National Institute for the Defense of the Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI). All of them are in progress and no official resolution from the INDECOPI has been given.

Latest developments

Law N° 30681, approved in 2017 now allows the investigation, growing, import, commercialisation and production of cannabis for medical and therapeutic purposes. The Cannabis Regulations have introduced a distinction between psychoactive cannabis and non-psychoactive cannabis based on the quantity of THC; and such distinction may entail a different licensing regime.

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