Mexican authorities to finalize regulations for medical cannabis and vote on full legalization

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Within the next two months, authorities in Mexico are expected to finalize the North American country’s regulations for medical cannabis. This is according to an official news release published by the Secretariat of Health of Mexico on June 30.

Currently, the medical cannabis market in Mexico is not functioning as it should be. The reason for this is because an amendment made by the General Health Law of Mexico in mid-2017 – when cannabis was first authorized for medical purposes – failed to provide rules and regulations for the market to thrive effectively.

In spite of the fact that the Health Secretariat has given a 180-day deadline to issue regulations that would ensure the safety of consumers, regulations are still lacking three years on. 

Mexico is one of numerous nations with legal medical cannabis

A firm set of regulations may be absent for Mexico’s medical cannabis market, but a 2018 report published by GrandView Research showed that the market was valued at $47.3 million and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.7 percent by 2025; based on the market being stimulated by the use of cannabis for cancer, chronic pain and neurological diseases.

Mexico’s medical cannabis law would enable patients to get their hands on high-THC products — ‘THC’ is short for ‘tetrahydrocannabinol’ and it is a psychoactive cannabinoid renowned for making consumers feel “stoned”. Authorities made an effort to get things moving in 2018, when the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) released guidelines and gave the go-ahead for initial product roll-outs. Unfortunately, in 2019, guidelines were rescinded after authorities confirmed that the rules contradicted the 2017 version of the law.

Based on the Secretariat of Health’s recent announcement, the government department in charge of Mexico’s social health services said that the “approximate” deadline to develop medical cannabis regulations will be September 9, 2020. While this deadline may provide patients and industry players with some clarity, it remains uncertain as to how the market would fare if a legal recreational market is launched. 

COVID-19 has impacted regulations for legal cannabis in Mexico

Aside from Mexico’s medical cannabis bill, a separate law aimed at legalizing recreational cannabis in Mexico has been put on the back-burner on more than one occasion. However, it is expected to be voted on by December 15. The deadline for Mexico’s recreational cannabis bill, titled, “Law for the Regulation of Cannabis,” was initially extended in February of this year to April 30, following a Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ruling in 2018 that instructed Mexico’s Congress to amend the Health Code within a 90-day window.

Mexico’s recreational cannabis bill would prompt the formation of a Mexican Institute of Cannabis — responsible for providing market oversight. Individuals could legally possess up to 28 grams of cannabis under the terms of the bill, which would also enable Mexicans to cultivate 20 plants per household; dependent on the number of people living in a particular household. Although the bill was given the green light by key Senate committees on Justice and Health this March, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out shortly after and, consequently, had slowed down progress.