Medical cannabis legalised in Mexico

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Medical cannabis legalised in Mexico

Medical cannabis is now legal in Mexico after an overwhelming vote of 374-7 in Mexico’s lower parliament on April 28. This is an historic change in attitude for a country at war with drugs. Mexico is another country to recognise the healing properties of the cannabis plant. In June, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto signed off on the bill. It had already passed the senate with a vote of 98-7 in December. But, this does not mean it will be available on the streets of Mexico. This bill authorises the Mexican Health Ministry to develop a regulatory framework for cannabis with THC levels of up to 1 percent. It also tasks the Ministry with developing a research program to further study its therapeutic effects. Researchers have to submit the therapeutic or medical benefits of any new cannabis products they want to produce. The development of new products must have approval from the General Health Council. Growing cannabis for medical use and scientific research will longer be punishable. This cannabis bill opens the door for government to regulate and tax medical cannabis products. This is a huge step for Mexico and medical cannabis supporters are celebrating.

Mexico celebrates legalised medical cannabis

While cannabis advocates celebrate its legalisation, others say it is a tiny step forward and call for more from the government. But, in reality, it is a huge step. Latin America has battled corruption and violence stemming from the drug trade for decades. This new attitude to decriminalise cannabis has spread across much of Latin America. In countries including Chile, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Cost Rica and Peru, cannabis is available for both recreational and medical use. Cannabis is completely legal in Uruguay. This new attitude comes from years of trying to stop drugs crossing the borders into Western and European countries. This has been a violent road gang wars breaking out. This has not worked.

Decriminalisation a cautious move

Cannabis decriminalisation is a cautious move. But, this could explain this first step forward by the Mexican government. A poll in 2015 found decriminalising cannabis unpopular among the Mexican people 66 percent opposed to it. Drug cartels have left huge scars on the Mexican people with an estimated 100,000 people killed caught up in drug wars. And Mexico’s Catholic Church is strongly opposed to any sort of legalisation of cannabis, even for medical reasons. But, this bill heralds changing times for Mexico’s future approach to drugs.

A shift in thought leadership

Recreational cannabis is mostly still illegal across Mexico. Although, Mexico’s Supreme Court granted four people the right to grow cannabis for their own use in 2015. Justice Olga Sánchez Cordero said of the ruling, “Absolute prohibition is excessive and doesn’t protect the right to health.” Currently the government is considering allowing people to have up to an ounce of cannabis in their possession. Mexico’s president Pena Nieto has changed his mind about cannabis. Once a vocal voice against it, he now believes addiction is a public health issue. He said people should not be branded criminals because they use cannabis.

Mexico follows California’s lead

Mexico’s drug changes are a step towards as it follows its neighbour, California, and other American states lead. Already 30 states in America have passed laws legalising medical cannabis. And, recreational cannabis is legal in 13 states including Colorado, Alaska, Massachusetts, Washington, California, Maine, Oregon, Nevada, Washington DC and Maine. This is in conflict to America’s federal laws that say cannabis is still illegal in any form. However, more than 20 percent of American adults access cannabis for either medical or recreational use. Americans still hope President Donald Trump will change that. He showed sympathy towards medical cannabis during his presidential campaign. But there are no positive signs of federal law changes coming from the White House at this time. One can only hope federal laws will change to come into line with state cannabis legislation. Mexico’s legislation fails to address how to keep access to cannabis from children or people from driving when stoned. It could take years for the Health Ministry to sort these issues out. Meanwhile this is not good for companies looking to invest in Mexico’s cannabis industry. The industry needs to stabilise before investors put their hard-earned cash into Mexico’s cannabis industry.        

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