Mexico has legalized recreational cannabis, but what does it take to get a cannabis license there?
Getting a cannabis license in Mexico is a new opportunity for foreign and local business owners. Mexico’s naturally warm climate is an ideal place to grow cannabis. The famous landrace cannabis strain Acapulco Gold, and strains like Haze and Trainwreck share Mexican heritage. Mexico has long been known for its illicit cannabis production, especially for the black market “brick weed” that swept through the US. However, cannabis legalization in Canada and US states supplanted that poor quality bud. Now that recreational cannabis legalization is coming to Mexico, high-quality Mexican cannabis is on the horizon.
Cannabis Legalization in Mexico
It is thought that cannabis first came to Mexico in the form of hemp in the mid-1500s . The Spanish brought it there to farm for fiber. Around the 1770s psychoactive marijuana appeared in Mexican historical records as a substance used by indigenous people for traditional and medicinal purposes. By the late 1800s, marijuana use became prevalent but it also came to be viewed as a violent narcotic. In 1920, cannabis in Mexico was prohibited up until 2006 when small amounts became decriminalized.
On March 10, 2021, the New York Times announced that Mexico successfully passed legislation for national recreational cannabis legalization. Medical cannabis has been legal in Mexico since 2017, but this new law means that Mexico will join Canada and Uruguay’s ranks in allowing recreational cannabis use on a federal level.
Medical Marijuana in Mexico
Medical cannabis was legalized in 2017. However, in Mexico, medical cannabis refers to hemp and CBD. It is only allowed to have less than 1% THC . Since decriminalization in 2009, possession of up to five grams of marijuana will not result in jail time, but until very recently it was still illegal. Since CBD products are far from the same as actual medical marijuana, the medical program has not been popular in Mexico. Despite much concern from the dominantly conservative and Catholic population, recreational adult-use cannabis was legalized and is giving more people hope for safe access to quality cannabis products.
Recreational Marijuana in Mexico
The Mexican Supreme Court ruled cannabis prohibition unconstitutional in 2018 and has asked that laws and regulations to govern recreational cannabis in Mexico be created . These laws are expected to be released in 2021. Multiple news platforms are reporting that to obtain a cannabis cultivation license in Mexico, applicants should begin the procedures as soon as possible. Some believe that producers who begin by operating as medical marijuana (hemp) producers will have an edge once recreational marijuana licensing opens up.
Legal experts believe that Mexico’s Law for Cannabis Regulation may have some barriers against foreign investment and vertical integration, so starting now may also allow license holders to have some “grandfathered” privileges that the new regulations could change . Conversely, there is the risk that the new laws would require you to make significant changes to the businesses already licensed for medical marijuana (hemp) in order to participate in the recreational marijuana market. Also, be aware that Mexican cannabis licenses are not transferable and sellable like licenses in the US!
The Law for Cannabis Regulation is expected to have a 49% cap on foreign investment. There is no such limit in place right now.Cisneros Aguilar, A. Big Ideas: Apply For Your Mexico Cannabis License NOW
How to Get a Cannabis License in Mexico
In Mexico, COFEPRIS is the agency that enforces regulation, and SENASICA oversees applications. The Mexican medical cannabis regulations are the current law, but be aware that new regulations for recreational cannabis will be coming in 2021. Article 21 of the medical cannabis regulations outlines the main requirements for cannabis licensing in Mexico.
Applying for a Cannabis License in Mexico
Applications to SENASICA start with a written request to plant authorized Cannabis varieties. These requests for a Permitted Confined Planting Site need to contain the following information:
- Applicant/business name, name of the legal representative, and taxpayer registry
- Physical address and email address for receiving communications
- The use of the raw material (manufacture of Pharmacological Derivatives and Medications and/or use of Research Protocol authorized by COFEPRIS)
- Quantity and density of seed to be planted, seed origin, identification, certifications
- Projected harvest by flower yield and estimated plant residue yield
- Control Book (planting schedules, site plant, “description of the reproductive or multiplicative biology of the material” and containment plan, destruction plans)
- Place and date of request, signatures of applicants/legal representatives, and signed contracts (if applicable) with the agricultural producer, lab, or institution that is being worked with
In addition to that information in the written request, there are requirements for copies of identification, sanitary licenses that must be acquired, and information about the seed that will be used. You can request a license for investigational or manufacturing purposes.
Site Requirements for Cannabis Cultivation
Article 21 goes on to detail the requirements of cannabis cultivation sites in Mexico. Remember, that if you get your license now you will start by growing hemp for CBD or for research purposes until regulations allow you to apply to grow recreational marijuana. Your site plan for your application will need to include the following information:
- Total area of the cultivation space
- Site location
- Site planting data
- Site description
- Site confinement information such as documentation of a perimeter fence, single access door, secure access control, access via a double door with mat that allows for shoe cleaning and foreign material prevention, insect-proof mesh covering on ducts and openings where pests could enter, double door exit with lock, and established perimeters that are far from urban areas
- Activity monitoring procedures
- Pest management plans
- Plans for harvest, storage, and waste disposal
- Plan to prevent genetic material from escaping and growing outside of the permitted area
- Site isolation measures
- Sanitation plan
- Phytosanitary certificate of national mobilization issued by SADER and transportation license issued by COFEPRIS
- Security plan
Being a Marijuana Grower in Mexico
The requirements for cannabis licensing in Mexico are not all too different from the requirements of Canada. Seed-to-sale software like GrowerIQ will provide many advantages and help cultivators manage inventory, plan and manage crops, track customers, and keep records in order. Simply put, GrowerIQ gives your cannabis business the infrastructure it needs to succeed in a competitive and tightly regulated market. It combines the intelligence of cultivation software, seed-to-sale tracking, and quality management software with the capabilities of an ERP.
In addition to GrowerIQ seed-to-sale software, consulting services are also available. Whether you need help applying for a license or are looking to purchase SOP templates, the experts at GrowerIQ have you covered and can help you win cannabis licenses and establish smart business models.
Find Out More
GrowerIQ’s seed-to-sale software is a critical system to help you comply with medical marijuana cultivation in Mexico. Our experts can help you create a successful international cannabis venture and strive within any legal framework. To learn more, get in touch with our Cannabis professionals by completing the form below.
- Campos, I. (23 April 2012). Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 253.
- Cisneros Aguilar, A. (5 August 2020). Big Ideas: Apply For Your Mexico Cannabis License NOW. Harris Bricken.
- Janikian, M. (14 September 2017). Legal Pot In Mexico: Everything You Need to Know. Rolling Stone.
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