Medical cannabis is now officially legal in Mexico, it was confirmed in a decree published by President Enrique Peña Nieto yesterday. The medical cannabis bill received overwhelming support in both the Senate in December 2016 and in the Lower House in April (the former passing with 98-7 in favour and the later with 347-7) and just needed the President’s signature to enshrine it into law.

This decree eliminates the criminalisation of the medical use of cannabis, THC, CBD and all cannabis derivatives, as well as legalising production and distribution for medical purposes. This will allow many patients in Mexico who use cannabis to treat conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain, to access their medicine on prescription, instead of from the black market.

The bill authorises the Ministry of Health to draft and implement regulations regarding the medical use of cannabis and its derivatives, including production and research. Currently, only cannabis containing 1% or less of THC (the psychoactive element) will be allowed, before more research into its effects is carried out. Mexico’s Secretary of Health, Dr José Narro Robes, voiced his support for the new law, saying “I welcome the approval of the therapeutic use of cannabis in Mexico.”

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, once a fierce opponent of cannabis legalisation, has recently called for a re-examination of global drug policy after a nationwide debate in early 2016. He told the United Nationals General Assembly Special Sessions in April 2016: “So far, the solutions implemented by the international community have been frankly insufficient. We must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention.” He even introduced a measure that would allow citizens to possess up to an ounce of cannabis without penalties, but the bill stalled in congress.

Mexico can now join the list of countries where patients can legally access medical cannabis, such as Argentina which legalised in March this year, Australia which legalised last year and Canada, where medical cannabis has been legal for over 15 years. It begs the question, when will the UK government do the humanitarian thing and give our patients the opportunity to obtain their medicine through legal channels?

Words by Abbie Llewelyn. Tweets @Abbiemunch

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