The first clinical trial in Argentina involving the medicinal use of cannabis on children began today at a public hospital in the capital.
The trial, authorised thanks to a law passed in 2017, will take place at the Garraham children's hospital in Parque Patricios, Buenos Aires.
Around 100 patients aged up to 15 years old, who suffer from refractory epilepsy – one of the most severe forms of the illness – will participate. Fifty are patients at the Garraham, while another 50 patients come outside Buenos Aires.
Patients will be given cannabis oil and their evolution will be followed for two years, with the aim of concluding whether the drug is acceptable for the State to approve its use in public hospitals. The first initial results will be available in six months.
"We have medical and scientific expectations, we believe we can help patients," said the scientist in charge of the trial, Roberto Carballo, speaking to with the Clarín newspaper.
"Our mission is to exhaust all possibilities to improve the quality of life of our patients. When everything has been tested and there is no favourable response, then we must investigate and look for other alternatives, in this case medical cannabis," said the hospital's president, Carlos Kambourian.
The cannabis oil used in the trial is imported from Canada.
Argentina legalised the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in March, 2017.
The standard guarantees free access to hemp oil and other derivatives of the plant to patients enrolled in a national program for the study and research of the use of cannabis.
Although the law promoted the public production of cannabis, so far that step has not been put into action. Patients must register on an official registry to allow medicine with the drug to be imported. Despite inaccurate claims by some civil organisations, homegrown cannabis is not legal.
Nor is self-cultivation allowed as claimed by several civil organisations that group patients.