Hesitation over legal cannabis is costing Mexico money, industry says

By Pedro Pablo Cortes

Mexico City, Jun 28 (EFE).- The failure to implement the 2021 decision by Mexico’s Supreme Court striking down laws against marijuana is depriving the economy of $230 million annually, leaders of the fledgling cannabis industry say.

The June 28, 2021, decision appeared to open the door to full legalization, but the legislation needed to make legal marijuana a reality remains stalled in Congress.

Some of the reluctance can be attributed to President Andres Manuel Obrador whose leftist views on the economy coexist with conservative attitudes on some social issues.

More than once, the president has expressed concern that legal marijuana could be a “gateway” to more harmful drugs.

Raul Elizondo, creator and CEO of Hempmeds and co-founder of Mexico’s Chamber of the Cannabis Industry, pointed out that without new laws, individuals and firms have no way to obtain permits for the import, export, sale, and industrialization of cannabis and hemp.

“We have not advanced in the regulation of marijuana as such in Mexico” in the two years since the Supreme Court ruling, he told EFE.

CannabiSalud (Cannabis Health), organizer of a June 14-16 conference in Cancun on the marijuana business, cites figures from consultants Statista showing that a legal, regulated pot market in Mexico would generate annual turnover of $230 million.

Elizondo said that when it comes to hemp, his country is squandering the opportunities created by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“Our two principal trade partners have legality regarding the planting of hemp,” he said.

But the main consequence of lawmakers’ reluctance to pass legislation is that “people remain unable to exercise their rights,” Elizondo said. “People continue to be arrested for minimal amounts of cannabis that are for their personal use.

And while medical marijuana is fully legal in Mexico, not enough has been done to maximize its potential, according to Denyse Espinosa, a partner in Revolucion con Flores (Revolution with Flowers), a company with a self-proclaimed mission to “foment the growth of the Mexican cannabis industry.”

“So here is a great opportunity that I think nobody is seeing, or very few people, that permits us to generate research and education, and that is the first step that has been taken by the countries that regulated it,” she said.

Revolucion con Flores sees Mexico’s role as co-host, along with the US and Canada, of World Cup 2026 as an opportunity to promote the Aztec nation as a destination for medical marijuana tourism.

Without legislation, according to Espinosa, Mexico’s cannabis market will come to be dominated by large companies, rather than small and mid-size domestic firms.

“Cannabis is not something that cures (illness), but it helps to reduce some symptoms. I believe that that can also be applied to society and we are losing the opportunity to create a completely different Mexico, a Mexico with a love of medicinal plants, of respect, of mental health,” she said. EFE


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