Cannabis legalization is proceeding in Mexico after several years of no action. In 2017, Mexico published an amendment to its General Health Law that allowed THC use for medical purposes and ordered the government to implement secondary regulations to support the new law. At first, nothing happened. However, in August 2019, the Supreme Court of Justice in Mexico granted an amparo (constitutional) injunction to an underage child suffering from West syndrome, a condition that required CBD and THC dosing as part of his medical treatment. The Court determined that the child´s right to health services was violated because the Ministry of Health’s delay in issuing the secondary regulations that guaranteed child access to the therapeutic use of Cannabis.

The injunction represented a watershed moment for cannabis legalization in Mexico. In addition to the humanitarian benefit of ensuring the child’s access to his medical treatment, the Court ordered the Ministry of Health to issue regulations regarding the therapeutic use of cannabis and its derivatives within 180 business days.

As of today, the Mexican Congress is considering approximately 11 bills related to the required regulations. However, according to experts, the bill introduced by Mrs. Olga Sánchez Cordero (former Senator and currently Mexico’s Interior Minister) in November 2018 (the “Cannabis Law Bill”) appears to have the best chance of becoming law. Specifically, it covers a broad range of cannabis use: 1) scientific use; 2) individual use (self-consumption and personal use through production cooperatives); and 3) commercial use (pharmaceutical, therapeutic, adult and industrial).

Sánchez Cordero’s bill, which was introduced shortly after the Court ruled for the fifth time that Mexico´s ban on recreational cannabis was unconstitutional, will address cannabis legalization under a strict regulation model. Her model represents a mid-point between absolute prohibition and completely free market dynamics, and will regulate and monitor the entire legalized cannabis supply chain.

The Cannabis Law Bill also provides for the creation of a new administrative body under the Ministry of Health: the Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis. This new entity will be in charge of issuing regulation and licenses for the planting, growing, harvesting, production, transformation, labeling, storage, transportation, distribution and commercialization of cannabis.  If approved, this new law will also establish restrictions on, for example, advertising, sponsorships, importation, packaging (child-resistant), THC & CBD maximum levels and authorized cannabis varieties, and will prohibit cannabis edibles.

Regarding cannabis production, the Cannabis Law Bill allows for the creation of production cooperatives with a minimum of 80% of Mexican capital stock and a maximum of 150 shareholders. Each of the shareholders would be permitted to produce a maximum of 480 grams of cannabis per year. Likewise, those interested in individual cannabis use could grow (on private property) up to 20 cannabis plants, production from which may not exceed 480 grams per year.

Cannabis legalization is moving forward rapidly and Mexico will soon have the regulations in place to support a new industry that has been eyed by investors all around the globe.


Paulina Doen is an associate in Baker McKenzie's Mexico City office where she specializes in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.