Mexico and its relationship with cannabis is a difficult topic, as currently much regulation is stuck in a legal void, which does more harm than good. Patients are eagerly waiting for the approval of new laws, but the reality is that the government is not taking a swift approach and by delaying the inevitable, all the benefits that Mexico could obtain from this industry are being lost in limbo.
As a result of the multiple medicinal benefits and minimal risks associated with the legal and educated consumption of cannabis and its derivatives, its popularity has increased around the world, driving legalization in more and more countries.
In the case of Mexico, it is estimated that the value of the national market in the first year could reach 5 billion US dollars and, as for the international market, could reach 74 billion by 2027.
Currently more than 50 countries have some kind of regulation for cannabis in its different uses; medical; industrial; and recreational. This is the birth of a new multi-million dollar industry that for Mexico can represent a unique opportunity to enter international markets and help the country to face the worst crisis in history.
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Mexico’s cannabis regulation stuck in legal limbo
In Mexico today there is a legislative limbo. On the one hand, the country is still waiting for a regulation pending since 2017 that regulates the medicinal and research uses of cannabis, which should be published in September of this year.
On the other hand, the so-called Law for the Regulation of Cannabis that will regulate all uses, has as a limit mandated by the SCJN, It has until December 15 of the present year to be approved.
Today, the country faces an immeasurable demand from medical patients and recreational users, who do not have access to a regulated market in the country, nor to accurate tools to validate the content of the product that can be obtained in the illegal market or even at home, via self-cultivation.
The risks associated with potential contaminants represent a serious public health problem that, on the eve of the desired regulation, gives rise to a paradox.
Mexico could apply strategies to minimize the risks related to cannabis
Based on the experience that countries where cannabis is regulated have had, two of the most effective strategies for the minimization of health risks are:
Firstly they have laboratory analysis, which seek to verify the cleanliness of contaminants that may be harmful to health. Secondly, there is the traceability of products, which generates the possibility of following the trail at each stage of the supply chain, from genetics, cultivation, transformation, packaging, transport and the point of sale that has a direct relationship with the patient and/or end user.
There are different laboratory tests which play a very important role in the legal cannabis industry, these with the objective of giving security to the final consumer about the quality and content of what he or she consumes.
To mention some examples, laboratory analysis can test for the potency of cannabinoids and terpenes, for the presence of heavy metals and pesticides, for any residual solvents or microbial pathogens, and there is even a test for fungal mycotoxins.
A legal cannabis market would bring benefits to both patients and the country
The existence of a legal market would bring positive results for the patients and consumers. Especially it allows for consumer confidence in the content of the products and/or the possibility of identifying the people liable in case of some non wished effect.
There is a current deficiency in the legal mechanisms to import or to acquire a product derived from cannabis. It stems from the combination of the lack of regulation and the reforms to the General Law of Health pending from 2017 where the use of cannabis for medical and investigation purposes was authorized.
Furthermore, the current process involves a series of complex, late and expensive procedures, which confuses patients and makes acquiring a medicine of assured quality at a fair price almost impossible. Perhaps why so many of them resort to illegal alternatives.
Regulation delays have put Mexico in a difficult position
Patients and users who opt for the illegal market are faced with an endless and confusing range of products. They range from “imported” (which in some cases are counterfeit) products, through national articles of low quality and dubious content, to Mexican products, but… Would all these products pass the above mentioned tests required by a legal industry?
The national demand is real and the national talent exists to develop the cannabis sector. The paradox of the road to regulation in Mexico is that the delay in regulation has become a sad constant that plays against the health of the thousands of patients and users who today suffer the consequences of not having legal and safe access to cannabis.
Experts believe that Mexico is ready to adapt to this new normality brought by the world of cannabis. And the best way to calm fear and combat the stigma associated with the plant is to share accurate information from experiences in regulated markets. Eventually creating a new Mexican culture of educated and responsible consumption of cannabis and its derivatives.
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First published in Forbes, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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