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Regulating Cannabis Use In Mexico – Current Legal Framework

Author:Ms Ingrid Ortiz

Mexico's current legislation regarding cannabis use is the result of several legal actions. More than five years ago, the first legal actions regarding the prohibition of cannabis use were filed by the authorities, pushing towards a specific legal framework.

These actions involved the use of cannabis for different purposes. The relevant cases addressing the use of cannabis were aimed at obtaining the approval of an allopathic drug with a cannabisrelated substance as an active ingredient, and the approval for import of a cannabis-related substance medicine for personal and recreational use.

Supreme Court of Justice decision

The Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), which is responsible for applying and enforcing the corresponding regulatory framework in relation to drugs, refused to review the dossier and grant a marketing authorisation for pharmaceutical products containing cannabis and other narcotics as active ingredients.

In September 2015, as a result of one of the legal actions filed by the parents of a young girl suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (epileptic attacks), COFEPRIS announced the import of a medical treatment containing a cannabis-related substance which was about to be authorised. In November 2015 the Supreme Court of Justice debated whether recreational use of cannabis should be authorised. The court's ruling considered that prohibiting the use of cannabis for recreational purposes is unconstitutional.

COFEPRIS complied with the decision on 10 December 2015 by granting only to the plaintiffs (four people) the authorisation to plant, cultivate, prepare, possess and transport cannabis for selfconsumption for recreational use, excluding any commercial activity. The case was significant, but the decision did not constitute binding jurisprudence for other courts.

The precedents set by the case prompted the discussion of a number of key topics (eg, the need to regulate and eventually authorise the medical use of cannabis for any individual) and highlighted the loopholes in Mexico's health system in respect of cannabis. The Supreme Court of Justice held that the General Health Law establishes a prohibitionist system which should not be applied to medical use.

Questions regarding the medical use of narcotic and psychotropic substances such as cannabis were inevitably raised and began to have a considerable effect on the Mexican legal system. As a result, various levels of the federal government...

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