By Emily Ledger
Mexico’s Health Ministry has laid out new regulations on medical cannabis as the country is poised to become the largest cannabis market in the world. The new guidelines are expected to aid medical research into the plant and, in turn, improve patient access to cannabis-based medications.
The regulations have been signed off by Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and will contribute to wider cannabis reforms taking place in the Latin American country.
Medical companies will now be permitted to carry out increased research into the plant, however, they will first have to obtain permission from the Mexican health regulator, COFEPRIS. The research will also be carefully controlled and carried out in independent laboratories.
Mexico’s new medical cannabis regulations will, in some cases, allow the import of cannabis plants for use in the production of medicinal products. However, the export of cannabis will remain prohibited. These measures make up part of a wider scheme which will see rules for the cultivation and harvesting of cannabis for medical purposes.
It is hoped that this development could lead to the availability of more diverse medical cannabis products. Despite being legalised in 2017, the country has so far only allowed the medical use of “pharmacological derivatives of cannabis” containing a maximum of 1% THC.
Wider Cannabis Reforms in Mexico
Despite widespread cultivation and use of cannabis throughout Mexico, the plant has been prohibited in the country since 1920. The ban on the plant was recently declared unconstitutional by Mexico’s Supreme court, effectively making the law unenforceable by federal authorities.
The final ruling by the Supreme Court was announced in 2018, and lawmakers were given 90 days to legalise the adult use of recreational cannabis. This deadline was later extended to the 15 December 2020, yet legalisation is yet to be confirmed and is only expected to be passed in the coming period of Congress.
The Largest Cannabis Market in the World
In the meantime, cannabis companies from abroad – particularly the US and Canada – have been keeping a careful eye on the progression of cannabis reforms in Mexico. Given that new legislation will give the Latin American country both the largest national medical and recreational markets in the world by population, it is safe to say that many will be looking to invest in the Mexican cannabis industry.
On the other hand, legislation laid out by Mexico’s Senate in 2019 regarding the legalisation of cannabis could limit the involvement of international businesses in the growing market. For example, the draft legislation would place can the number of licenses granted to international businesses at 20%.
Advocates for legalisation have been extremely vocal about ensuring that local people and communities are given priority to benefit from the forthcoming legal cannabis industry.