Mexico recently took massive steps in medical marijuana policy. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed a decree in June that not only legalized medical marijuana, but also categorized THC as “therapeutic.” The measure was significantly supported by the Senate and Lower House of Congress. It passed 347-7 in April.
President Pena Nieto was once passionately opposed to marijuana. After a 2016 nationwide public debate on legalization however, he has since taken another stand. In April 2016, Pena Nieto stated that “so far, the solutions implemented by the international community have been frankly insufficient. We must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention.”
Medical Marijuana in Mexico Moves Beyond Outdated Policies on Pot
Outdated pot policies in Mexico are being replaced. With the establishment of new medical marijuana regulations, views on pot are quickly changing. In 2016, Pena Nieto even presented a measure that would allow Mexican citizens to possess up to one ounce of cannabis without legal ramifications. Although vetoed by Congress, steps such as these mark the beginning of big change in Mexican marijuana policy.
Although the bill legalizing medical marijuana has passed with strong support, new policies could take a while to implement. Dispensaries aren’t likely to fill street corners next to tiendas and taco stands any time soon. Before any policies are passed that allow distribution, the Ministry of Health will write regulations and public policies that regulate use. A research program is also being developed to study its impact before it is offered to the public.
Medical Marijuana in Mexico No Longer a Crime
Mexico’s Lower House of Parliament (La Cámara de Diputados) stated: “The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes.”
This means that Pena Nieto’s ruling eradicates criminalization of the medical use of marijuana. This includes THC, CBD, and other derivatives of marijuana. It also makes production and distribution of marijuana (for medical purposes) completely legal.
Medical marijuana legalization comes as a welcomed change to citizens across the country. Dr. Jose Narro Robles, Secretary of Health in Mexico, supported the President’s decision by saying, “I welcome the approval of the therapeutic use of cannabis in Mexico. Senator Miguel Barbosa stated the ruling was “well below the expectations of society.” Senator Armando Rios Peter described it as a “tiny” step away from a drug policy that has failed.
This doesn’t mean Mexico will turn into the next marijuana frontier like Colorado. Regulations in Mexico are actually expected to be far from it. Alejandro Madrazo, head of the drug policy institute at Mexico’s Center for Research and Training in Economics, anticipates a slow start. He imagines that implemented laws regarding medical marijuana will be extremely conservative in the beginning. He does believe however, these rules will eventually broaden.
Regulations are scheduled to be completed by the Health Ministry towards the end of the year. There are obviously obstacles to still overcome. Mexico however, just made one of the most monumental changes in marijuana policy the country has ever seen.