Mexico Marijuana: Legalization, Regulations, and Products
Mexico’s medical marijuana program is served. And recreational marijuana legalization in Mexico is in the oven. What’s in Mexico’s medical marijuana recipe. And what might its recreational program taste like? In this post, we’ll take a look at how legalizing marijuana in Mexico came about and where it’s going.
Have you ever heard of a Reefer Madness sandwich? That’s the prohibitionist United States of America sandwiched between Canada and Mexico — two of the world’s largest marijuana markets. While Canada’s program has been baking for a few years now, Mexico’s medical marijuana program is fresh out of the oven.
Mexico’s medical marijuana program is actually a few years old already. Back in 2017, former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto issued a mandate to legalize medical marijuana. Then it took three years to develop regulations. And that’s only because in 2019, the Mexican Supreme Court ordered the country’s Regulatory Agencies to get off the pot and develop medical marijuana rules.
And desert — recreational legalization — is expected to come sometime in mid-2021. Could the U.S. be serving up legal marijuana next?
Mexico’s Medical Marijuana Program
Recently, Mexico’s health ministry unveiled a regulatory framework for the country’s medical marijuana program. We’re not talking about medical marijuana patients growing their own weed — yet. Only pharmaceutical companies will be permitted to produce marijuana-derived drugs and cannabis-infused medicines.
Out of the gate, the program allows pharmaceutical companies to immediately begin doing medical research on cannabis products. That is assuming they have the proper permission from the Mexican health regulator, Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos (COFEPRIS).
Doctors who want to practice cannabis medicine will also need to register with COFEPRIS.
Also, companies that wish to cultivate marijuana in Mexico must register with the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA).
The freshly made regulations set rules for the growing and harvesting of marijuana in Mexico and also include quality control measures and good manufacturing practices.
Will Mexico Import Medical Marijuana?
Interestingly, while the laws permit Mexican companies to import cannabis products, the export of Mexican-grown marijuana is strictly prohibited. That’s interesting because Mexico has been bedeviled for a century by drug-related violence between feuding cartels that make millions smuggling marijuana into the United States.
The legalization trend in the U.S. has already caused a decline in smuggling. And now companies in Canada — and eventually the U.S. — are expected to be sending marijuana back south of the border into Mexico. American and Canadian cannabis companies are already to position themselves for entering the massive Mexican cannabis market.
Mexican’s and foreigners alike will be permitted to travel with medical marijuana within Mexico. The same is expected when the country legalizes recreational marijuana, opening the door for marijuana tourism in Mexico. Which could be huge. Right out of the gate, Mexico is now the largest marijuana market in the world with a population of 121 million people.
Will Mexico legalize recreational marijuana?
Mexico’s medical marijuana program is almost a moot point with recreational legalization on the horizon. A bill has already passed in the Senate (82 votes in favor, 18 against, and seven abstentions). It now sits in the House of Deputies undergoing improvements.
Under the measure, Mexico residents would be permitted to grow up to six plants, or up to eight for two-adult households. No permit will be required to grow marijuana for personal use.
Also, cannabis associations with up to 20 members would be permitted to grow up to four plants per person. And then there’s the commercial market. Five different types of licenses will be offered: cultivation, transformation, distribution (sale), import/export, and research.
The bill currently limits commercial cultivation to one hectare outdoors and 1,000 square meters indoors.
Social Justice And Mexican Marijuana
There are also social justice aspects to the bill. At least 40 percent of commercial cultivation licenses are set aside for entrepreneurs in communities that have been impacted by prohibition and gives preference to indigenous communities. Also, dispensaries licenses will allow the holder to operate just three retail locations which should dissuade large corporations from getting into that market.
The Mexican Supreme Court has also ordered the legislature to finalize recreational marijuana laws before the end of the second quarter of 2021 (before the midterm elections).
Mexico legalizing marijuana is seen as a game-changer. So far, the only two countries to legalize marijuana have been Canada and Uruguay. Not only does this put pressure on the U.S., but it also opens the door for other countries in South & Central America to legalize.
Legalization will not only have a dramatic effect on the drug wars, but it will also save the country a veritable fortune and free up funds currently earmarked for marijuana-related law enforcement.
In 2018, 14 percent of adults sent to Mexico state prisons were sent there on drug-related charges making it the number one cause of incarceration in Mexico. The majority of convictions (84.7 percent of 31,338) were for possession of amounts above currently established thresholds. Sadly, 44 percent of those in Mexico state prison and 30 percent in federal prison on drug charges are still awaiting sentencing.
Currently, more than 114,000 hectares of land (that’s about a quarter of a million acres) in Mexico is used to grow marijuana. And between January and October 2020, the government spent good money to eradicate 2,055 hectares.
What’s It All Mean For U.S. Marijuana Laws?
Mexico’s move to legalize marijuana puts even more pressure on Washington lawmakers to end the federal prohibition of marijuana in the U.S. Hemp, non-intoxicating cannabis strains, was already made legal at the end of 2018.
Moreover, more than two-thirds of U.S. states have legalized marijuana in one form or another including 13 states that now allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use to adults over 21 years of age.
An open marijuana market in Mexico, including the ability to export marijuana into Mexico from the U.S. could mean a massive boom in U.S. and Canada marijuana stocks. With Mexico and Canada running legal marijuana markets and the U.S. working diligently to do the same, now might be the golden opportunity moment for anyone considering investing in cannabis companies.