This year marks an overwhelmingly significant milestone for Mexico, as the country legalizes medical cannabis. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto made it official by moving forward with a decree that establishes the foundation of therapeutic programs in the region.

Specifically, the vocal leader is taking a slow – but thorough – approach to drafting regulations and policies, which will be facilitated by the Ministry of Health. At a very nascent level, the group will be launching clinical trials to research the plant’s compounds and applications, eventually leading to the creation of local policies that caters to patients seeking alternative, natural forms of medicinal treatment.

President Peña Nieto did not meet much resistance from the Senate and Lower House of Congress. In April, the bill passed, resulting in 371 members in favor and 19 members against the measure. In December, the results were similar, with 98 senators in favor and only seven voting against.

The move to regulate medical cannabis is a positive one. Mexico and its neighbors were previously under pressure for failing to curtail the flow of narcotics entering the United States. Instead of increasing law enforcement funding, nearby countries and regions affected opted to enforce a different plan that focuses on decriminalization.

Surprisingly, the announcement was met with mixed reactions from locals. According to a 2015 poll conducted by El Universal newspaper, more than half of surveyed residents strongly opposed legalizing cannabis. But without an effective solution to the country’s growing illegal trafficking concerns, many individuals have changed their views about legalizing cannabis.

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The implications of legalization in the country are huge. First, local residents will have open access to medical cannabis and pharmacological derivatives of the plant, like CBD oil. This is a double win for Mexico, on the street (reducing crime rates) and in the economy.

From a business perspective, other countries with medical cannabis laws will be able to partner with registered Mexican growers, shops and research companies to improve their products. In the long term, such collaborative movements could also push the prices of medical cannabis products down. The Ministry of Health is tasked to provide regulations surrounding the importation of the plant.

“With medical cannabis fully legal in Canada and now in Mexico, we wonder how long it will be before the United States joins the rest of North America in reforming laws at the national/federal level,”

Medical Marijuana, Inc. CEO Dr. Stuart Titus said,

“With 30 U.S. States approving medical cannabis and 17 others with CBD-only laws, we feel the real crime in this matter is the lack of progressive leadership shown by our own federal government. The science 100% supports this, the people fully support this, and the opioid crisis is totally out of control. We, the people, demand answers from our leaders.”

For now, only cannabis derivatives with low THC (one percent or lower) will be permissible in the country. Though this seems to not include cannabis used for scientific testing. So far, it’s still too early to tell how lax the regulations will be; the ministry intends to roll out more guidelines in the near future, which will help paint a clearer picture of the country’s stance on medical cannabis.

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