For the first time, a Mexican state government has purchased a medical marijuana product to use as therapy for its citizens. On August 17, Eruvial Ávila, governor of the State of Mexico, personally distributed the first shipment of CBD hemp oil to patients at the opening of a new health clinic in the city of Ecatepec. The State of Mexico is the country’s most populous and surrounds the capitol of Mexico City on three sides.
The hemp oil will initially be used to treat 11 patients whose conditions have not improved with conventional therapies. Seven of the patients are children, most are being treated for seizure disorders. A few will be using the hemp oil to relieve pain caused by cancer. Gov. Ávila has also instructed his state’s health department to find more patients with a need for the MMJ program and to add them to it.
Mexico has a single-payer, universal healthcare system that makes Ávila responsible for the medical care of his state’s citizens. After Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana on June 19 of this year, Ávila partnered with medical cannabis firm HempMeds Mexico to acquire the company’s Real Scientific Hemp Oil-X (RSHO-X) for the treatment of patients.
RSHO-X is produced in San Diego, California by Medical Marijuana, Inc., the parent company of HempMeds Mexico. The product is formulated to contain no detectable THC to satisfy officials leery of the psychoactive cannabinoid. It was first used in Mexico, at patient expense, after the national health agency COFEPRIS issued special import permits in 2016.
For Raúl Elizalde, the president of HempMeds Mexico, the new state MMJ program is a dream come true.
Elizalde became a cannabis activist to help his 10-year-old daughter, Grace, who suffers from a form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS). Despite trying 19 different pharmaceuticals and brain surgery, Grace was suffering up to 400 seizures daily. With CBD therapy, that is now down to 10-20 per day.
Elizalde founded the Por Grace Foundation, which strives to educate Mexicans on the benefits of medical cannabis and to help them gain access to it. His passion and activism led to an offer to take the reins at HempMeds Mexico earlier this year.
Reached at his office in Monterrey, in the Mexican state of Nueva León, Elizalde praised Ávila for taking the initiative to find a product to help children.
“It’s amazing that a government is looking for a way to help people who have no other option,” he said.
Ávila became convinced of the medicinal potential of cannabis after reviewing the work of Dr. Saúl Garza, a neurologist and pediatric researcher. In a study led by Garza, 86 percent of LGS patients experienced at least a 50 percent reduction in motor seizures. Seventeen percent of the children in the study had no seizures for a four-month period.
RSHO-X is currently the only medical marijuana therapy approved for import and use by COFEPRIS. While only the State of Mexico is providing the CBD oil to patients at this time, all patients in the country are eligible to purchase RSHO-X through the HempMeds Mexico website with proper approval from a physician and COFEPRIS.