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Mexico moves closer to becoming the world’s largest legal cannabis market

Image: A rally in support of marijuana legalization in Guadalajara, Mexico

Mexico is inching closer to becoming the world’s largest legal cannabis market as lawmakers prepare to debate a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana.

The Chamber of Deputies, Congress’ lower house similar to the U.S. House of Representatives, will take up the issue early next week, Martha Tagle Martínez, a member of the chamber’s health committee, said in a series of tweets.

The Senate approved the legalization of medical marijuana almost four months ago, and two months later, the Health Ministry published rules to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis.

Former President Vicente Fox, who is on the board of global medical marijuana company Khiron Life Sciences Corp., said he sees the potential for Mexico to cash in on much-needed job creation, economic investment and medical advancements.

A regulated market could also help to lessen the cartel violence that has become synonymous with the country.

“Many great things will happen,” he said. “We’re taking away this beautiful plant from criminals and putting in the hands of retailers and farmers.”

Mexico has been steadily marching toward creating a cannabis market since 2015, when a federal judge ruled in favor of importing cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, for medical reasons. The ruling stemmed from a case involving a young girl suffering from a severe form of epilepsy.

The parents of the girl, Grace Elizalde, who was 8 years old at the time, had tried just about everything to treat her Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which triggered 400 seizures a day. At their most desperate, the family drove three hours to Laredo, Texas, to acquire Cosyntropin, a synthetic peptide that can be used to treat seizures. The medication cost more than $5,000, said Grace’s father, Raul Elizalde, who is now the president of the international CBD company HempMeds.

Elizalde eventually reached out to a Mexican lawmaker who publicly supported adopting cannabis legislation in Mexico after Washington state and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. That lawmaker, Fernando Belaunzarán, wrote a letter to Mexico’s health secretary on behalf of the Elizalde family, seeking permission to import cannabis oil for Grace’s treatment.

Initially, the Health Ministry declined the request, but a federal judge stepped in and allowed Elizalde to import CBD.

“There was not a lot of information back then in 2015,” Elizalde said. “It was hard to find any information about cannabis, especially CBD.”

Elizalde said Grace’s doctor had been interested in research taking place around the world on CBD as a potential treatment for epilepsy and thought it was worth a try for his daughter, who is now 13. Her seizures have decreased to about 20 on a bad day, Elizalde said.

In 2017, Enrique Peña Nieto, the president at the time, signed a bill allowing the medical use of marijuana products containing less than 1 percent of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The bill also called on the Health Ministry to draft and implement regulations for the nascent industry.

It took three more years for Mexico to finalize regulations. During that time, public perception gradually shifted as more families spoke publicly about using cannabis-derived medication to treat various ailments.

“The domino effect is happening,” Fox said. “The No. 1 challenge is to convey, inform and educate consumers and patients. And also educate the medical community. There is still some hesitancy in Mexican culture.”

In a poll published last year in the newspaper El Financiero, 58 percent of respondents opposed full legalization. But among respondents under age 40, more than half said they were in favor of legalizing cannabis.

“Mexico is changing,” Elizalde said. “We never thought we would change the law. Now it’s changing faster than we thought possible.”

While the road to full legalization appears to have accelerated, especially compared to the U.S.’s debate over the so-called war on drugs, Mexico’s path has not necessarily been driven by public or political demand. Instead, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a series of five rulings declaring the ban on the consumption of cannabis unconstitutional.

Under Mexican law, the number of decisions needed to set a precedent is five.

“Mexico went down the legalization path because of a quirk in the way their judicial system works,” said Andrew Rudman, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan research organization.

While the court’s mandate forced lawmakers to build a framework for regulating cannabis, it did not necessarily create a desire among elected officials to do so quickly.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador campaigned on the promise to change the country’s approach to its drug war, including negotiating peace and amnesty for people involved in or affected by the illegal drug trade. Despite his campaign promises, legalizing cannabis is not necessarily a top priority, Rudman said.

“It was more that the court basically said to the Congress, ‘You have to do this,'” he said.

With the clock ticking for Mexico to finalize both its medical and recreational cannabis programs, the U.S. could be left in an awkward position if its neighbors to the north and the south each have legal frameworks in place. Canada legalized recreational cannabis in 2018; marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S.

“It creates some really interesting trade issues,” Rudman said. “Mexico legalizing is going to strengthen the push for, if not legalization, decriminalization in the U.S.”

The Chamber of Deputies has until the end of April to comply with the court mandate to legalize cannabis.

Alicia Victoria Lozano is a California-based reporter for NBC News focusing on climate change, wildfires and the changing politics of drug laws.

Mexico moves closer to becoming the world’s largest legal cannabis market as lawmakers prepare to debate a proposal to legalize marijuana.

Is CBD Oil Legal in Mexico?

November 19, 2019

Is CBD oil legal in Mexico

All across the globe, cannabis law reform is ongoing – and it appears the trend is headed toward legalization. Since Colorado and Washington became the first states in the US to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012, Alaska, Oregon, Vermont, California, Nevada, Maine, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have all followed suit, with even more states allowing medical marijuana or decriminalizing cannabis in lieu of full legalization.

So, Is CBD Oil Legal in Mexico?

The U.S. isn’t the only country experiencing widespread cannabis reform. As of October 2018, cannabis has been fully legalized in Canada, making it the 2 nd country to do so after Uruguay in 2013. States in the US continue to legalize each year with federal legalization looming on the horizon. But what about our neighbors to the south? Is cannabis, or CBD oil for that matter, legal in Mexico?

In 2009, in an effort to decrease cartel activity, Mexico decriminalized marijuana, allowing possession of up to five grams with no ramifications. Ten years later, Mexico is yet to legalize marijuana officially, however, in October 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that blanket prohibition of marijuana was unconstitutional and impeded on citizens’ rights to “personal development.” This was the fifth time the court had come to such a verdict – an important detail in this case, because in Mexico, once a similar verdict has been reached five times in the Supreme Court, it becomes the set standard.

CBD in Mexico

As a result of this new standard, it is now up to Mexico’s federal courts to ultimately decide the legality of recreational use, possession, and growing of cannabis. The October ruling established a one-year deadline for a vote on legalization. But an onslaught of lobbying from cannabis companies has impeded the process, and that deadline has been extended to April 30, 2020, as the many complexities of a new legal market across an entire country – requiring input from both lawmakers and the public – continue to be addressed.

In 2017, Mexico legalized medicinal use of cannabis containing less than 1% THC, opening the doors for CBD distribution and consumption nationwide. After the 2018 Supreme Court ruling, no less than 38 over-the-counter cannabis products were approved by the Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (the equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration in the US). These CBD products, which include food supplements, cosmetics, edibles, and raw materials, are now available for retail purchase in Mexico.

Mexico is poised to legalize marijuana at any moment. When it does, 125 million adults will have access, making it the largest market for cannabis in the entire world as far as individual countries go. The magnitude of regulating such a market carries with it enormous complexities, meaning it will likely be years before a fully regulated market is established. In the meantime, dozens of legal full spectrum CBD oil and CBD capsules are available across the country, and the recent Supreme Court ruling should act as sufficient peace of mind for cannabis enthusiasts of all persuasions.

So, is CBD oil legal in Mexico? Not sure of the legalities surrounding it when traveling in the country? Read our guide to CBD oil in Mexico here.