Mexican lawmakers were just months away from opening up the largest cannabis sector in the world, but after missing the 30 April deadline, the country will have to “start from scratch” in its reform of cannabis legislation.
In 2018, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled the country’s ban on consuming cannabis unconstitutional. Since then, the county’s lawmakers have been considering the legalisation of the drug.
With orders from the court to make reforms to existing policies, the Mexican senate and congress began to set plans in motion to amend the cannabis policy.
The original deadline for the legalisation of cannabis was set for October 2019, but lawmakers have requested a number of extensions over the past three years.
In March this year, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of congress, finally approved a bill to allow the production of cannabis for industrial, medical and recreational use. The bill was then passed over to the Mexican Senate for approval.
All eyes were on the South American country as it appeared that Mexico was just months away from becoming one of the world’s largest cannabis markets.
If approved, the bill would allow adults to grow a small number of plants and carry up to 28 grams of cannabis flower. The revised legislation would also allow companies to apply for licences to cultivate, produce and manufacture cannabis-based products.
However, after months of deliberation, Mexican lawmakers have now missed the Supreme Court’s 30 April deadline to end cannabis prohibition and have not requested a further extension.
Although presidential elections take place every six years in Mexico, local elections for the country’s congress, senate and lower house occur once every three years. With the next election due to take place in June, lawmakers are now considering a special legislative measure later in the year.
“At the beginning of March, there was a big buzz about Mexico approving a full legal bill,” said Felipe Sanchez, vice president for Latin America at SōRSE Technology – a US company that produces water-soluble emulsion technology for the cannabis sector.
“There was a lot of hope, and speaking with people in Mexico, everybody was pretty assured that it was going to be approved,” he added.
“But we will have to start from scratch in July with a new set of people in the senate and lower house. They will start the discussion again because the other guys didn’t finish the job.”
If the bill was approved, Mexico would have joined one of very few countries in the world that permit recreational cannabis. But, despite the anticipated liberalisation of cannabis laws, the bill also proposed a number of restrictions that may have created hurdles for the emerging sector.
For example, the importation and exportation of psychoactive THC would not be permitted, along with online sales and telesales. The promotion of cannabis products would also have been against the law if the bill was passed.
“It’s good that the country wants to make sure that it doesn’t get out of their control, but on the other hand, it [would] be challenging for companies to market their products,” Sanchez said.
“However, it would be better to have that law than nothing, because right now, in Mexico you cannot do anything [outside of] medicinal cannabis.”
Sanchez believes that when Mexico does finally legalise cannabis, it should learn from the mistakes and experiences of other countries in Latin America that have legalised the drug – Uruguay and Colombia.
The latter approved a bill to legalise cannabis in 2013 and by 2015 had invested millions of dollars to establish Colombia as a leader in the global sector.
But according to Sanchez, complex regulations and restrictions led to confusion amongst cannabis companies.
Last year, Colombia exported less than $6 million worth of cannabis to the rest of the world, far less than its potential.
“That’s not an industry, and that is what I believe could happen to Mexico if we don’t learn from previous experiences and make things too complicated for small companies,” said Sanchez.
“You are then in a situation where people feel they might as well carry on with illegal activities which are a lot faster and have better margins than trying to be legal and comply with a lot of restrictions that will just make them not viable.”
Despite its illegality, cannabis is grown across Mexico where illicit cultivators benefit from the country’s suitable climate for growing the plant. According to Sanchez, the country has the potential to produce several harvests per year.
Although this would come with opportunities to yield taxes and create new jobs for the country, many are concerned about what legalisation would mean for illegal cannabis farms dotted across the country.
“The primary concern that I see is about small companies and communities where cannabis has been growing for years illegally. What the law needs to take into account – and tries to – is legitimatising these crops and converting them from an illegal to a legal world.
“That is something that has to be thoroughly thought through; you want to hopefully convert illegal growers into potential legal businesspeople.”
Although investors and entrepreneurs may be disheartened by Mexico’s failure to meet the deadline, many of the country’s citizens will be happy to see recreational cannabis remain illegal. One recent poll, for example, found that two-thirds of people disapprove of cannabis legalisation.
“There is still a high percentage of Mexicans that have, unfortunately, stigmatised cannabis. In my view, there is a big lack of information, a lack of communication and there is still stigmatisation of the plant that we need to work on,” Sanchez said.
“Unfortunately many people think that legalising cannabis would mean marijuana would be on every corner, but as business people, that’s not what we are aiming for.
“Activists who have been fighting for this law come across as people who just want to be stoned every day, and that’s unfortunate because this could be a great industry and the country could grow because of it.”
Mexico is a country marred by drug wars that have, according to the Council of Foreign Relation, taken an estimated 150,000 lives. Legalising cannabis is not going to eliminate organised crime in Mexico, however Sanchez argues that it could reduce it.
“There is no doubt in my mind and many people’s in the industry, that we see this as an opportunity to reduce or eliminate part of the organised crime that is related to this product,” Sanchez said.
“We know there are other substances and there are other organised crime activities; this is not the only one. If we legalise cannabis, organised crime will not stop; that is not the case. But, it will certainly take cannabis away from organised crime and it will be an opportunity for Mexico.”
CBGA may be ‘more potent’ than CBD against seizures in Dravet syndrome
Dr Lyndsey Anderson said there is more to explore when it comes to creating more treatment options for Dravet syndrome.
Scientists say they have found the ‘Mother of all cannabinoids’ which may help to reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome.
A new study on mice from the University of Sydney found that three acidic cannabinoids found in cannabis reduced seizures in Dravet syndrome, an intractable form of childhood epilepsy.
The three cannabinoids are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA), cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA). All three but CBGA in particular “may contribute to the effects of cannabis-based products in childhood epilepsy” noted the researchers and were found to potentially have ‘anticonvulsant properties.”
The study marks the first time that three acidic cannabinoids were found to potentially help reduce seizures for Dravet syndrome.
Speaking with Cannabis Health News, the lead author of the study, Dr Lyndsey Anderson, said: “We found that CBGA exhibited both anticonvulsant and pro-convulsant effects. CBGA was more potent than CBD against febrile seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We also found that a combination of CBGA and clobazam was more effective than either treatment alone. Additionally, we found that CBGA was anticonvulsant in the maximal electroshock acute seizure model, a model for generalized tonic-clonic seizures.”
She added: “CBGA did, however, present some proconvulsant effects. The frequency of spontaneous seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome was increased with a high dose of CBGA. Also, CBGA was proconvulsant in the 6-Hz acute seizure model, a model of focal, psychomotor seizures.”
Although CBGA shows promise, Dr Anderson also stressed that it needs more research before it can replace CBD. She cautioned that Dravet syndrome patients may still need to proceed with caution.
“Artisanal cannabis-based products are believed to reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome patients,” she said. “As these oils contain rare cannabinoids like CBGA, it is possible CBGA then contributes to the anticonvulsant effects of these artisanal cannabis oils. However, there were proconvulsant effects observed with CBGA, suggesting that Dravet syndrome patients may need to proceed with caution. The proconvulsant liability of CBGA would need to be addressed before it replaced CBD as an anticonvulsant.”
What is CBGA?
Sometimes referred to as ‘the mother of all cannabinoids,’ CBGA is the precursor molecule to many different cannabinioids including CBD and THC. It is thought to help some diseases such as colon cancer, metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease. It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid much like CBD.
Dr Anderson explains that more research is needed to explain how the three cannabinoids work together.
“We don’t know how they work together yet,” she said. “We found that CBGA, CBDVA and CBGVA were all individually anticonvulsant against thermally induced seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We did not investigate whether a combination of these three cannabinoids would result in a greater anticonvulsant effect than either cannabinoid alone. Future work will definitely explore this possibility.”
CBGA future research
This isn’t the end of the research into CBGA for Dravet Syndrome. Dr Anderson said there is more to explore when it comes to creating more treatment options for Dravet syndrome.
She said: “Next on the horizon for this research is to explore whether the anticonvulsant properties of CBDVA and CBGVA translate to other seizure types including spontaneous seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome. Additionally, we have extensively interrogated the anticonvulsant potential of individual cannabinoids and identified ten with anticonvulsant properties.”
“We are now interested in investigating what happens when we combine these anticonvulsant properties. It remains an open possibility that greater anticonvulsant effects are achieved when the cannabinoids are administered in combination.”
New York regulators vote to allow home grow for medical cannabis patients
The new regulations would allow medical cannabis patients and carers in the state a safe, cost-effective way to access their medication
The proposed regulations would allow medical cannabis patients and carers in New York to grow up to six plants, indoors or outdoors, for therapeutic use.
New York cannabis regulators voted unanimously for the proposed regulations which would not only allow qualified patients to grow their own plants.
According to a slide from the Cannabis Control Board presentation, patients would be allowed six plants each but carers with more than one patient, can “cultivate 1 additional cannabis plant for each subsequent patient.”
The new regulations would impose a duty on patients to ensure no one under the age of 21 can access the plants or any products cultivated from them.
Landlords would also have the option to prohibit their tenants from growing cannabis on their property if they chose. The products must not be processed using anything other than alcohol.
The regulations will now have a 60-day public commentary period before review.
Tremaine Wright, chair of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) said: “We are proud to present those proposed regulations. The home cultivation of medical cannabis will provide certified patients with a cost-effective means of obtaining cannabis through personal cultivation while creating a set of standards governing the conduct and activities relating to the personal cultivation of cannabis.”
In a press release, the CCB also gave an update on the expungement of cannabis convictions. “Approximately 203,000 cannabis-related charges are presently being suppressed from criminal background searches and are in process of being expunged, adding to the approximately 198,000 records that were expunged as part of the first round of cannabis expungement following legislation enacted in 2019.”
New York recreational market
Earlier this year, New York. It would become the 16th US state to legalise recreational cannabis creating thousands of jobs and tax revenue. The bill was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in March.
The law would allow for possession of up to three ounces of marijuana for personal use. It would allow licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis products to those over 21.
Neighbouring states who have already legalised marijuana, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, meant that New York citizens were leaving to access cannabis losing tax revenue in the process.
It is expected that home grow for recreational users will follow the proposed regulations for medical cannabis patients but only after the new market is established.
CiiTECH announces new CPD-accredited training course
It aims to support and encourage UK pharmacists, physicians and nurses.
Cannabis healthcare company CiiTECH has been awarded CPD accreditation for its academy course, which aims to support and encourage UK pharmacists, physicians and nurses.
CiiTECH’s Cannabis Science and Therapeutics course has had tremendous success after launching the course earlier this year.
The new and innovative course offers an interactive digital platform with a 12 chapter syllabus comprising of medical cannabis, CBD knowledge and information, specifically catered for healthcare professionals in the UK.
Industry experts in the UK could potentially face serious challenges if the trainers in question who are both recommending, and dispensing information are not up to the required standards in the field.
People currently working in the industry, such as pharmacy professionals will feel more secure and confident after taking the course. With such an array of knowledge from the experts, they are better able to recommend, treat and understand benefits and causes of their patients.
Besides all the learning and comprehensive information, simple FAQ questions by patients can be simply downloaded to have at hand as an ongoing reference.
The CBD industry is an extremely fast growing market, people are becoming more and more aware of benefits and common usage. It’s said that by 2025 the market in the UK only will be worth over £3 billion.
This means that clinics and pharmacies must be sourcing trustworthy information to their customers.
This course is aimed at filling an education gap in the market, by covering several points in intricate detail, from plant history to dosing, and patient care. A lot of occupations in the UK require an on going learning process each year, with positive results overtime, leading to a greater service in the industry.
“Through years of experience serving UK customers with our portfolio of CBD brands it was abundantly clear that the level of misinformation was enormous and confusing for everyone involved,” says Clifton Flack, CEO and founder of CiiTECH.
“Formal education is always important but with little to no existence in the UK we could not see a better way to help lead the industry than to establish our own online academy and give healthcare professionals the opportunity to not only learn about cannabis therapeutics but to earn further education points at the same time.”
Flack adds: “With the rise in UK cannabis prescriptions and CiiTECH’s long awaited move into the THC medical cannabis arena, now is the time to increase professional education and it is exactly why we have embarked on this education journey. CiiTECH is fast becoming the UK’s one stop shop for all your cannabis needs; research, education, consumer brands.”
CiiTECH collaborated with Medical Cannabis Mentor to produce the course and prepare it for CPD certification.
Joe Dolce, founder and CEO of Medical Cannabis Mentor, comments: “The course synthesises the most up-to-date scientific research and clinical guidelines in an engaging format to help professionals make informed treatment decisions.”
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- New York regulators vote to allow home grow for medical cannabis patients
- Grow Pharma to launch own-brand cannabis flower
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