The Congress of Peru has voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in the country. The move marks a fast 180 in the nation’s medical cannabis policy.

Since a publicized raid on a medical cannabis extraction lab earlier this year, lawmakers have proposed to decriminalize medical marijuana, and have now gone full measure to legalize it. The bill passed by Congress will be written into law before the end of the year.

In February, police raided a makeshift extraction lab where mothers manufactured cannabis concentrates for their infirmed children. A 43 year-old named Ana Alvarez had founded the group Buscando Esperanza to help children like her son Anthony, who suffered from a severe form of epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis, a condition which causes tumors to grow on organs including the brain.

The new law will allow for a regulated MMJ market to treat “serious and terminal illnesses.”

“We’ve ensured that thousands of patients and their family members will enjoy a better quality of life,” Alberto de Belaunde, a lawmaker who advocated the bill, told the Guardian. “This is a historic moment and my dream is that empathy and evidence can continue to defeat fears and prejudices.”

De Belaunde argued that the debate “was not abstract,” but “had a human face.” And many, many Peruvian lawmakers must have agreed with him; the Congress approved the bill 68-5.

Though the bill’s quick passing shows the Peruvian government to be somewhat progressive, and more than somewhat fluid, it’s unclear whether it addresses the problems raised by February’s raid.

Ana Alvarez, the raided lab’s founder says her group is “very happy with the fact that Peruvian law has approved this,” but adds that “we’re not totally satisfied.”

While the new law will allow for regulated manufacture of cannabis oil, it won’t allow for homemade labs like her own to cater to the specific needs of individual patients. “We want associations like ours to be included in the production of this natural medicine,” she said.

Latin America is quickly becoming a beacon for progressive cannabis regulations. Chile, Colombia, and Puerto Rico have all legalized the use of medicinal cannabis oil, while Uruguay has legalized the cultivation and use of cannabis in all forms.

Photo by Flickr user Minamie’s Photo