It's no secret that Mexico has had a complicated relationship with cannabis laws in recent history. Despite multiple attempts at full legalization, the regulations governing production and sale remain highly confusing and subject to frequent change. As the global market for medical and recreational marijuana continues to expand exponentially, it is critical for stakeholders to understand how these laws have evolved over the years to get us to where we are today in 2023.
Cannabis Reform in Mexico
In 2018, Mexico's Supreme Court issued a ruling stating that the prohibition of possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis for recreational purposes was unconstitutional. This ruling did not legalize recreational cannabis use outright, but it did open the door for further legal reforms.
In 2021, Mexico's Congress passed a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults over the age of 18. The bill also established a regulatory framework for the cultivation, production, and sale of cannabis products upon application and issuance of a permit from the health secretariat, COFEPRIS (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios).
On the other hand, medical cannabis has been legal in Mexico since 2017. Under the 2017 General Health Law, patients with certain medical conditions can access low-THC cannabis with a prescription from a doctor. However, the law did not approve the cultivation or production of medical cannabis within Mexico, meaning that all medical cannabis products must be imported, and no additional regulatory framework was established to support the import, distribution, or prescription of medical marijuana.
Overall, it is clear that the legal status of cannabis in Mexico is in a state of transition. While there has been progress for both medical and recreational cannabis, state and federal penal laws remain in place, pending action by the Mexican Congress to clean up inconsistencies and remove penal language. No legal structure has been put into place allowing for legal sale of marijuana, nor are there provisions for commercial cultivation and production. Meanwhile, those incarcerated for sale or possession have no path to release. All these await legislative action to bring Mexico's laws into alignment with the Supreme Court rulings.
Even though we await a move from Congress to clear up these blockers, we must remember that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed a bill that allows adults 18 and over to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis and grow up to six marijuana plants on their property which is great progress for the growing movement of consumers and subcultures all across the country.
Will 2023 be the year Mexico finally adopts full legalization law and become the single largest regulated market in the world?
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