Cannabis in Chile
Chile is the largest consumer of cannabis in South America, according to Wikipedia.
It is? Can cannabis in Chile be safely obtain by a casual user or visitor? Chileans appear to have very low key approach to weed and it made for a surreal experience and also a bit Machiavellian. Recently, I was in Italy as well. Medical cannabis is legal in Italy as well as Chile, but the other legal differences are huge. In effect though, both countries seem more similar than different. I found out there is a scene in both countries and I didn’t have to look for it at all in either Chile or Italy. What I found is the ‘scenes’ are kind of similar. In both countries, cannabis is sort of there, but not there at the same time. Both governments seem to ‘admit’ that their citizens are using cannabis, but they don’t seem to have the desire to force the issue and arrest everyone who consumes cannabis. There’s still some stigma around cannabis consumption, bit it’s more under the table in Italy and Chile than it is here in the U.S.
Sweet Aroma of Cannabis
The purpose of my trip was to visit as many wine regions and wineries and taste as many Chilean wines as I could during my time there, Whenever I travel, I always try to check out the cannabis scene, just to see what’s going on. I don’t try to buy any (however, if some was offered…). I was successful at the wine tasting part. As for cannabis in Chile, it’s there, but it’s really underground except … Except you can smell it everywhere and see cannabis nowhere at the same time. The Chilean laws are, if anything, even stranger than the Italian laws. In Italy, you can buy cannabis as long as it’s “Cannabis Light”, which means less than 1 1/2% of THC (wink wink nod nod) and made from industrial hemp. And you can purchase it in a store that sells cannabis. But consuming cannabis in Italy is against the law. You can look, you can buy, but you cannot smoke, except for medical cannabis. In Chile, it’s legal to consume cannabis at home, but not buy, grow or sell it. In Two countries, two quasi “legal” medical cannabis markets. Between them, there’s a legal market for adult use cannabis. Alone, they’re just strange.
Chile, like Italy, has medical cannabis. Cannabis in Chile has been legal since 2015, but it wasn’t readily available until pharmacies started selling cannabis products in 2017. There are lots of pharmacies in Chile. Chileans get colds and coughs just like us. In fact, I had to go into one, but I never saw (and didn’t seek out) any medical cannabis. But apparently it’s there and there’s a lot of it. There have also been many protests about medical cannabis in Chile and making it more available. Apparently there is still lots of work to do on the medical cannabis front in Chile. The picture at the right is from one of the many protests that people held in the last few years to make medical cannabis readily available in pharmacies.
If cannabis is legal to smoke at home, as long as you don’t grow it and as long as you don’t buy it, where were all the rolling papers and other paraphernalia needed to complete consumption? None of us saw any head shops where paraphanalia like papers, bongs, pipes, etc. was available. But as we were walking the streets in a piazza in Valparaiso, there was a card table with some papers and a few pipes. AHA! That’s where Chileans, at least in Valparaiso, got their smoking supplies; card tables on the street in public squares. The unmistakable aromas of cured and burning cannabis were everywhere! The country smelled a bit like a pot shop in many places. But card tables to sell the stuff you need to consume the cannabis flowers you’re not supposed to have in your possession? Head shops are not all over the place.
Then we were walking on the beach at Viña del Mar, just beyond Valparaiso, I spotted a vendor who was selling pipes. Strangest pipes I’ve ever seen. Very ornate, with swirls and stones embedded in them, but I’m not sure what they’re made from. Since I’m so unsure, I wouldn’t smoke them. Glass…not a problem. Metal, no problem. But the material is a mystery to me. So while I’m fine with the idea of using a pope like this for ceremonial purposes, I’m not so sure about actually using the pipe.
Grow Your Own is OK…Apparently
A lot of the product you need for growing comes from grow shops. There were signs advertising grow shops in different communities. Medical is legal or is it growing that’s legal for medical purposes? I saw at least three of these shops. It’s OK to grow your own, but not be able to find it in a shop.
If you want to do cannabis tourism in South America, I’d suggest Uruguay. It’s been totally legal there for several years. Or you can just stay or visit in the U.S. and go to a legal state. There’s more of them all the time.