Updated on January 7, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
As of June 19, 2017, medical marijuana has been legalized for medical and scientific purposes in Mexico. The bill for medical marijuana had overwhelming support in both the Mexican House of Representatives and its Senate. This comes as somewhat of a surprise since most of the Mexican population is conservative.
Unlike the United States, there is less support for the legalization of marijuana. In fact, it’s still highly stigmatized. Although most of its citizens approve legalizing it for medicinal purposes, 73 percent reject it for recreational purposes.
Mexico’s medical marijuana program is still in its infancy. The Ministry of Health has been commissioned by the government to create regulations and criteria for the program. The main stipulation laid out is that all medical marijuana medications must only contain one percent of THC or lower.
The specifics aren’t all in place, but the groundwork is being laid. Currently, the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Health Risks (COFEPRIS) is granting permits to laboratories, both foreign and domestic, to produce marijuana-based medications.
To gain access to medical marijuana, patients will receive a prescription from a qualified physician, which they can use to get a limited supply of cannabis medication. The prescription will probably expire after a short amount of time — many countries give patients a 30-day supply. After this, patients will need to return to their physician for a renewal.
Cannabis has a long history in Mexico. Most people believe the Spanish brought it to the country as early as the 16th century. Initially, it was used industrially, for such products as rope, textiles and paper. However, it was not long before the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana became popular, as well.
By 1920, the government banned the recreational use of marijuana because they felt it threatened the health and well-being of the entire nation.
Since then, the government has struggled with drug cartels that export and sell marijuana both in-country and abroad. In 2006, a “war on drugs” was declared by then-President Felipe Calderón. For the last decade, it has led to much violent activity within Mexico resulting in many deaths. Many believe the legalization of marijuana would decrease much of this violence.
With the legalization of medical marijuana, this has firmly laid out certain ground rules for both cultivation and possession. The government has firmly stated private cultivation is illegal. Those who possess medical marijuana must receive it from a pharmacy, and these pharmacies must only receive their cannabis medications from facilities authorized by COFEPRIS.
Although the Mexican Ministry of Health has not yet laid set criteria for the government-run medical marijuana program, it’s expected to be similar to the guidelines in other countries, where cannabis is legal for medical use.
As early as 2016, COFEPRIS allowed those with treatment-resistant epilepsy to receive medical marijuana treatments. This condition will be among other qualifying conditions that warrant prescriptions for medical marijuana.
The oversight of Mexico’s medical marijuana program is headed up by the Ministry of Health. They are currently working out the criteria for patients to receive cannabis prescriptions.
Unlike many programs, most believe Mexico will cut out the government-run application process, allowing patients to receive a prescription for medical marijuana directly from a qualified physician. This will cause less of a back-up for patients waiting to receive these life-changing medications.
The prescription will last a limited amount of time — after which, patients will have to return to their doctors to receive a renewal for their prescription.
Mexico makes an important distinction between penalties for those involved in the sale, production and trafficking of marijuana and those who cultivate it for personal use. There are much higher penalties for those involved in the illegal distribution of cannabis.
However, in 2009, a landmark reform to Mexico’s drug laws stated recreational users would not be penalized if caught with five grams or less of marijuana. If they’re found to be in possession of cannabis on three separate occasions, they will be encouraged to enter a drug treatment program. Anyone caught with more than five grams of marijuana will be subject to prosecution.
A lot of changes will be happening to Mexico’s medical marijuana program as the Ministry of Health develops the country’s criteria and regulations for patients. Be sure to get the latest news from MarijuanaDoctors.com. We strive to provide our readers with the most up-to-date information available in a timely manner.
For answers to commonly asked marijuana-related questions, check out our resources page and our blog.