Mexico City: The Mexican Ministry of Health on Tuesday published rules to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis, a major 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 Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and will now allow pharmaceutical companies to start conducting medical research on cannabis products.
The ongoing cannabis reform includes the recreational use of marijuana, and will create the world’s largest national hemp market by population.
New medical rules Government companies wishing to conduct research must obtain permission from the Mexican health regulator, Cofepris, and this research must be conducted in independent laboratories that are subject to strict control.
“The standard for regulation is very high,” said Luisa Kunesa, a lawyer and advocate for cannabis who has led the legal challenges that led to the decriminalization of medical cannabis.
“(The regulation) is not targeting patients who grow cannabis themselves, but rather pharmaceutical companies that produce pharmaceutical cannabis derivatives classified as controlled substances that require a prescription.”
The regulation also sets out rules for sowing, planting, and harvesting hemp for medicinal purposes, allowing companies to legally grow marijuana on Mexican soil.
While some imports of the hemp plant are permitted for companies looking to create products, the export of grown Mexican hemp is prohibited.
Foreign weed companies from Canada and the United States are looking with interest in Mexico. Many have delayed making investment decisions due to policy uncertainty and have been awaiting publication of the final rule.
Mexican lawmakers are also in the final stages of legalizing recreational use of marijuana, and the bill is expected to pass in the next term of Congress.
The legislation marks a major shift in a country spoiled by years of violence between rival drug gangs, which have made millions of dollars from illegally growing marijuana and smuggling it into the United States.