Two recent rulings by the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico (“SCJN”) represent a significant milestone in legal cannabis consumption in Mexico.  On October 31, 2018, the First Courtroom of the SCJN, under Minister Norma Lucía Piña Hernández, approved the Amparos en Revisión No. 547/2018 and 548/2018, which declared that the prohibition on recreational cannabis was unconstitutional. These two rulings are binding precedent, which all courts in Mexico must follow when ruling in similar cases.  The rulings are ad personam, meaning that individuals seeking a judicial declaration related to cannabis must initiate an action in a competent court to obtain “authorization to consume.” In the same rulings, the SCJN also instructed the COFEPRIS (Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk) to authorize the consumption of cannabis, but not the commercialization or consumption of other substances.

In response to the rulings, however, the COFEPRIS announced its own position, stating that it lacks the authority to issue the necessary permits and regulations. According to COFEPRIS, individuals who wish to obtain an authorization related to recreational cannabis must apply to a competent court. COFEPRIS also issued internal rulings for obtaining the permits. However, with the recent change of administration and appointment of a new director, COFEPRIS has not been observing its own guidelines. 

In the meantime, shortly after the SCJN rulings, a draft of bill to strictly regulate and control cannabis in Mexico was submitted on November 2018 to the lower chamber of the Congress (Diputados) for review.  The scope of the draft bill is to create a registry of cannabis production and provide a legal framework for the production, use, commercialization, and advertising of cannabis and its derivatives. The bill further provides the process for obtaining permits to use, carry, and produce cannabis. Once revised by the Diputados, it will passed to the Senate for comments and approval and potential promulgation by the Executive.

Lately, the Mexican Presidential administration has been silent regarding cannabis legalization. Prior to taking control in December 1, 2018, the new Administration appeared ready to push toward legalization.  However, now that the new administration has assumed power, other priorities appear to have taken over.  It remains to be seen whether cannabis reform will continue moving forward.  Keep an eye on this blog for updates to Mexican cannabis law.


Luis Miguel De Alva is an associate in Baker McKenzie’s Mexico City office. Mr. De Alva focuses his practice on corporate law matters, including mergers, general corporate law, foreign investment, pre-merger filings and antitrust notices in connection with all types of commercial transactions.