MEXICO CITY – The Mexican Ministry of Health released rules regulating the use of medical cannabis on Tuesday. This is an important step in a broader reform to create the world’s largest legal cannabis market in the Latin American country.
The new regulation was signed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and now enables pharmaceutical companies to conduct medical research on cannabis products.
The ongoing cannabis reform encompasses recreational marijuana use and will create the largest national cannabis market in the world by population.
The new drug regulations for government companies wishing to conduct research must obtain approval from the Mexican health authority COFEPRIS, and this research must be carried out in strictly controlled, independent laboratories.
“The standard of regulation is very, very high,” said Luisa Conesa, a lawyer and pro-cannabis activist who cited legal challenges that led to the decriminalization of medical cannabis.
“(The regulation) is not aimed at patients who grow their own cannabis, but rather at pharmaceutical companies that make pharmaceutical derivatives of cannabis that are classified as prescription controlled substances,” he said.
The ordinance also sets out rules for planting, growing, and harvesting cannabis for medicinal purposes, which would allow companies to legally grow marijuana on Mexican soil.
While some imports of cannabis plants are allowed for companies that wish to manufacture products, the export of cannabis grown in Mexico is prohibited.
Foreign weed companies from Canada and the United States have viewed Mexico with interest. Many had delayed their investment decisions due to political uncertainty and were waiting for the final regulation to be published.
Mexican lawmakers are also in the final stages of legalizing recreational marijuana use. The law is expected to be passed in the next Congress period.
The legislation marks a big change in a country that has been marked for years by inter-vested violence by drug cartels that have long led to millions of dollars illegally growing marijuana and smuggling it into the United States.