Mexico’s Supreme Court Orders Health Ministry to Regulate Medical Marijuana

Long delays on guidelines have left the country’s patients and producers in the dark.

Mexico’s supreme court justices have grown impatient with the health ministry’s two year delay on medical cannabis regulation. On Wednesday, the court told the ministry that it has six months to issue rules surrounding patient usage, issued as part of its ruling in the case of a child seeking THC treatment for epilepsy.

The announcement comes nearly a year after the government of leftist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador a.k.a. AMLO proposed legislation to regulate both the medical and recreational marijuana industries — but that plan has not seen much movement since its announcement.

It is not the first time the ministry has been instructed to craft the regulations for the medical industry. In 2017, when medicinal cannabis was first legalized in Mexico, the ministry was told it had half a year to codify the drug’s distribution and use. The delay has left patients and cannabis suppliers largely in the dark about their rights to buy and sell medical weed, although some companies have begun offering their products in the country.

Mexico has long lingered in a grey area regarding policies towards marijuana. Many had high hopes that AMLO would rapidly legalize cannabis. Though the president touted cannabis reform as one aspect of his plan to fight the country’s skyrocketing crime rates, Mexicans have seen little tangible movement towards regulation.

The country’s best hope for legalization appears to be the plan that AMLO’s Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero proposed last fall. That bill walks the line between free market forces and public health concerns. It would ban weed advertising and establish the Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis, an agency to handle licensing, THC and CBD limits, and dictate which kinds of marijuana products could be available to consumers.

Sánchez Cordero’s proposed legislation would also allow registered home grow operations, with individuals authorized to grow 20 plants for a total yield of 480 grams each year. It includes allowances for cannabis cooperatives, groups authorized to provide up to 480 grams of marijuana to a total of two to 150 members per year.

Last year, the country’s supreme court ruled that cannabis prohibition violates the individual’s right to develop their personality. That ruling stated that legislators have until October 2019 to pass legislation that regulates both recreational and medicinal marijuana.

In anticipation of that deadline, the government has convened “open parliament” sessions in Mexico City on August 12, 14, and 16 in which citizens are invited to weigh in on the process, which will involve the consideration of Sánchez Cordero’s plan as well as several other legislative proposals that have been introduced over the past few years.

The government has also publicized a website where Mexican citizens unable to attend the sessions can leave their opinion regarding marijuana legalization, which will be used by the four parliamentary commissions in charge of creating regulation legislation. The site emphasizes the human rights and public health aspects of the debate, as well as the necessity of avoiding the drug’s abuse.

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