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Mexico Aims to Legalize Cannabis-Based Edibles, Medicines, and Cosmetics in 2018

The regulations are yet to be released, but the government said the guidelines will only authorize cannabis products for medical use, as well as prohibit local cultivation of the plant.

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This week, Mexico's health department announced that they were drafting regulations to allow the sales of cannabis-based foods, drinks, cosmetics, and medicine next year. Arturo Tornel, spokesperson for The Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risk (Cofepris), which establishes health regulations in the country, said that the formal guidelines concerning these new products will be published within the next several days.

Tornel explained that sales of pure cannabis flower will not be allowed, nor will Mexican canna-businesses be allowed to grow their own crops. Cofepris expects distributors and retailers to import the cannabis products they wish to sell from other countries, although some Mexican firms may eventually be allowed to create their own products using cannabis that's imported from abroad. Companies may begin importing approved products as soon as the regulations are released, which will allow sales to begin as early as next month.

This June, Mexico passed a bill legalizing cannabis for medical and scientific use with nearly unanimous support from the country's legislature. The law currently only allows cannabis products that contain less than one percent THC, however. Until these new guidelines are released, it remains unclear whether these newly-legalized products will be limited to containing only CBD, or whether products containing psychoactive cannabinoids will be allowed.

Recreational cannabis sales and use are still thoroughly illegal in Mexico, but the government's strong support of medical cannabis is a promising precedent for further cannabis reform. The country is currently deep in the midst of a war against violent drug cartels, who have killed over 140,000 people in the past decade, according to Reuters. Smuggling illegal marijuana into the U.S. is one of the cartels' largest income streams, netting them millions of dollars in profits.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longstanding advocate of cannabis reform, has argued that the legalization of cannabis in Mexico and the U.S. would create a thriving legal marijuana trade, cutting a major source of the cartels' income and creating a new source of income for both nations.