After officially gaining approval from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s Ministry of Health published rules on Tuesday, Jan. 12th to regulate the use of medical cannabis.
The regulations set up quality control and manufacturing standards, and allow pharmaceutical companies to conduct medical research on the plant. Mexican officials believe the new rules will help create the world’s largest legal cannabis market.
“We’re talking about a global cannabis economy, with Mexico as the largest country in the world, by population, to legalize marijuana,” explained Forbes contributor Robert Hoban. “Mexico will boast the biggest consumer market for cannabis products — with a population of more than 125 million people – representing an enormous leap forward for the developing international cannabis space.”
The regulation also allows for cultivation and harvesting of cannabis for medical purposes. This would allow business to legally grow the crop on Mexican soil.
As lawyer and cannabis activist Luisa Conesa explained to NBC News, companies will be required to obtain approval from Mexico’s health regulator, the Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios (COFEPRIS) in order to launch medical research.
“The standard of regulation is very, very high,” she stated, noting that all research must be done in strictly controlled, independent laboratories. “[The regulation] is not aimed at patients growing their own cannabis, it is aimed at pharmaceutical companies producing pharmaceutical derivatives of cannabis which are classified as controlled substances that need prescription.”
Federal Legalization in Mexico
Lawmakers in Mexico are in the final stages of legalizing recreational use as well, a move they have pushed for since October 2018 when the Supreme Court declared cannabis prohibition unconstitutional.
Further, while the Mexican Senate voted to approve federal legalization in November of 2020, the final stage of voting in Mexico’s lower congress, the Chamber of Deputies, has been delayed several times now due to “mistakes in tex,” reported Marijuana Moment.
According to Reuters, however, the Supreme Court is setting a new deadline of April 30th, and it is expected to pass in the next period of Congress.
What That Means for the U.S.
Morgan Fox, the spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), told Leafly that U.S lawmakers should avoid falling behind, in terms of the potential global market.
“It’s something that we’re trying to let them (lawmakers) know about,” he explained. “This is a situation where the global market is really surpassing the US in terms of policy. And it’s going to affect the ability of US businesses to take part. If the global (cannabis) market gets entrenched without a US presence, US companies will find themselves in an unfortunate position where non-United States businesses dominate.”
Jordan Lewis of Fotmer Life Sciences, an Uruguay-based cannabis company, further explained that Mexico’s potential to legalize cannabis will pressure U.S. lawmakers to consider national legality as well.
“It’s hard to maintain a prohibitionist policy towards cannabis when not only the majority of states have legal programs, but when the north and south neighboring countries will soon have cannabis legalization as well,” he told Leafly. “So I think it creates a stark reality that the US is going to have to deal with.”