Updated on December 21, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Following its legalization in 2017, the Mexican government has dedicated itself to developing the country’s medical marijuana program. While the age of the program makes it vulnerable to change, it’s essential to understand what legislators require of patients and physicians today before moving forward with applying to access medical weed.
Before the legalization of medical cannabis, Mexico permitted the importation of cannabis-based medications. To access these medicines — which could not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — you needed to request an importation permit. At the time, this license served as your medical marijuana card.
The advantage of carrying a medical marijuana card relates to its role as a form of identification. Since Mexico issued some of these permits in 2015, before medical weed was legal, these licenses provided patients and their loved ones with something to provide law enforcement officials in the event of questioning regarding their use of medical pot.
With its medicinal cannabis program, Mexico is adopting a different approach to medical marijuana cards. Instead of patients paying the substantial application fee and import cost for medical weed, the country is accepting submissions from companies interested in importing the medicine, which pharmacies would then sell. So, instead of needing a marijuana card, patients just need a prescription from a doctor.
Other countries where medical weed is legal, such as Finland and Uruguay, have taken a similar approach to their medical marijuana programs, which also allow patients to purchase medical cannabis at pharmacies rather than dispensaries.
Like any other prescription, you would entrust your local pharmacist with fulfilling your order. Recommendations for medical cannabis in Mexico, however, are limited to medicines with a THC content that’s less than one percent, which some patients may find limiting. The primary cannabinoid in these medications is cannabidiol (CBD).
Since Mexico’s program does not require medical marijuana cards, recertification is not necessary. You will be required, however, to renew your prescription. In many other countries, such as Portugal, prescriptions for medical cannabis do not include refills and are limited to a 30-day supply.
It’s expected that Mexico’s legislators will take a similar approach with their program. As a result, it’s important for patients to make appointments in advance with your medical marijuana physician — this way, you won’t have to go without your medication for extended periods.
When you meet with your doctor, expect to discuss your existing treatment. Tracking your symptoms throughout the month is often helpful, as you can see how your symptoms have improved or changed since you started using medical cannabis.
Due to the strict timeline set by the Mexican government, the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Health Risks’ (COFEPRIS’) focus has centered on building the country’s policies for importing and selling medical weed, thus ensuring patients can access their medications.
Because of this approach, a certification process for prescribing medical cannabis is non-existent. Other medical marijuana programs, such as those in the Czech Republic and Belgium, require a specialist to provide your initial medical marijuana prescription, which your general practitioner can then recommend in the future.
If you or a loved one are considering medical weed as a treatment, make an appointment with your specialist as soon as possible.
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To learn more about Mexico’s medical marijuana program, contact a local government official.