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At Last, Mexico Publishes Medical Cannabis Regulations

Last week, our neighbor to the South took a significant step forward in cannabis reform, when Mexico’s health ministry published rules regulating the use of medicinal cannabis. This will hopefully be the first of many major cannabis reform measures in Mexico this year. 

The Mexican government issued regulations on their three-year-old medical marijuana program. This is different from the adult-use legislation currently being discussed in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies - the lower house. The April 2021 deadline for legislation legalizing recreational cannabis use still holds. 

In 2017, former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto issued a mandate to move forward with medical marijuana legalization. That legislation created a void as there were no regulations to go along with it. In 2019, the Mexican Supreme Court mandated that the Regulatory Agencies create medical marijuana rules

While these regulations are three years overdue, they’re fairly straightforward. The primary focus is on cannabis cultivation both for research and for the manufacture of pharmaceutical or pharmacological products. The legislation allows for public and private research, and it provides quality control measures, including good manufacturing practices. 

I spoke with Aurelius Data’s Julie Armstrong who’s excited about the fact that this process requires institutionalized medical data going forward. Mexicans seeking permits for the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes will need to register with the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA). This will ultimately create a national registry of cultivators.

Doctors who want to practice cannabis medicine will need to register with another agency: the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS). Cannabis medicines will be distributed through pharmacies. Mexico’s legislation also creates rules for products that can be imported and exported.

Both Mexican citizens and foreigners are permitted to travel in the country with their products. This opens the door for medical cannabis tourism, a deliberate objective of these regulations and mirrors what we’ve seen in some places in Southeast Asia. Last year Thailand issued a medical cannabis regulation that effectively created similar opportunities for medical cannabis tourism.

As far as the adult-use and industrial hemp measures, the legislature is required by a Supreme Court mandate to move forward to finalize the law in the second quarter of 2021. It’s critical for it to be enacted before this summer’s midterm elections. Ultimately, Mexico’s legalization of adult-use cannabis would open the largest legal cannabis market in the world.

This would sandwich the United States between neighbors to the south and the north that will have enacted forms of federal cannabis legalization and regulated cannabis commerce. With new political leadership in the U.S. set to be sworn this week, we'll see if this puts pressure on our federal government to move forward with medical and/or adult-use regulation

 

All this is good news for Mexico and the global cannabis industry. I want to congratulate that nation’s many incredible educators and thought leaders, starting with our associates Lorena Beltran and Luis Armendariz, who’ve helped mobilize all of these Mexican cannabis reform measures. Stay tuned.

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