Earlier this summer, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed an executive decree legalizing medical marijuana, then directed the country’s Health Ministry to write rules for medical marijuana use. That process is currently underway, but it might prove painful.
While legislation was being debated and many of Peña Nieto’s political allies opposed the legislation, pressure was building around the country—especially from parents of children suffering from epilepsy—to allow the import of CBD oil to alleviate their seizures.
Now, Mexican lawmakers have until the end of the year to draft rules for a medical marijuana program.
Meanwhile, black market CBD oil continues to flourish among those who provide their loved ones with the medicine they need.
One such case is the mother of a teenage boy, confined to a wheelchair, who has frequent epileptic seizures for which she spends thousands of dollars on hospitalizations.
The high cost of medical care eventually compelled this mother to start buying her son (both of their names have been withheld) cannabis extract from the black market.
Breaking the law is not her biggest worry, she said, she’d rather get arrested than see her son sick.
While the legalization process has been a struggle in Mexico, as far back as 2015, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of the consumption or cultivation of marijuana violated fundamental human rights.
Even though Peña Nieto himself opposes a general legalization of cannabis, he supported an increase in personal possession for medical use.
In a speech he gave at the United Nations, Peña Nieto lamented the human toll of the country’s decades-long drug war against drug traffickers and pledged to push for legislation allowing the medical use and scientific research of marijuana.
But, given the Mexican government’s no-to-drugs, tough-on-crime history, some people are expecting the Health Ministry to issue very conservative rules, which could potentially mean only the use of medical hemp oil.
Although, forward thinking politicians are assuming the new law will open the door for future administrations to write more broadly applicable rules for MMJ or recreational use.
It also means that Mexican pharmaceutical companies will likely be allowed to apply for marijuana patents that would have to be respected in the more than 45 countries where Mexico has trade treaties.
“The patents made here would immediately have to be respected elsewhere in the world as marijuana becomes legal for medical use,” said Alejandro Madrazo, a law professor and head of the drug policy institute at Mexico’s Center for Research and Teaching in Economics.
“Under this law, we could have a booming medical marijuana industry in Mexico that projects Mexico as a powerhouse for the development of medicines in the world,” Madrazo said in Fronteras.