Medical Marijuana, Inc. subsidiary HempMeds® Mexico has had a historic first year – creating the first commercially available zero-THC CBD hemp oil product, increasing access to CBD products for patients in Mexico and across Latin America, and participating in important events in shaping the discussion of cannabis reform in the country.
As the company celebrates its one year anniversary, we look back on the achievements of the first 12 months and glance ahead to what the changing landscape in Mexico will mean for the company in the upcoming year.
First CBD Products Ever Shipped to Patients in Mexico
HempMeds® Mexico’s year began as the company launched on January 31, 2016 and became the first ever to ship cannabis-based products into Mexico, making national headlines in Mexico and the U.S.
Medical Marijuana, Inc. created HempMeds® Mexico after the company’s flagship THC-free product RSHO-X™ became the first and only cannabis product allowed for import into the country by COFEPRIS. The health department of Mexico, COFEPRIS issued the country’s first-ever government permits in February to import RSHO-X™ to Maria Paula, 5, and Alina Maldonado Montes de Oca, 11.
Alina’s father Abelardo made a 16 hour round-trip trek by bus to pick up his daughter’s import authorization. Footage of his journey became part of the documentary Crisis, which highlighted the struggle of families in Mexico fighting for access to CBD.
Partnership with Por Grace
Another family close to HempMeds® Mexico is that of Grace Elizalde of the Por Grace Foundation. Grace was the first patient in Mexico to legally use CBD oil, unknowingly kickstarting the movement for CBD in Mexico.
Grace’s father, Raul Elizalde, started the Por Grace Foundation to further access to CBD for Grace and others like his daughter. The premier cannabidiol advocacy group in Mexico, the Por Grace Foundation works closely with HempMeds® Mexico to help interested patients get RSHO-X™.
In discussing the Por Grace Foundation, HempMeds® Mexico President Dion Markgraaff said, “We are going to continue our successful support of this foundation because the group has proven incredibly effective in educating the Mexican people about the power of cannabis and, in particular, CBD hemp oil. Raul and the Por Grace Foundation are at the tip of the cannabis movement in Mexico, piercing at people’s previously misguided prejudices about the plant.”
Raul Elizalde Shares Stage with Mexican President
To help punctuate the importance of the role Por Grace has played in Mexico’s transition in cannabis policy, Raul was invited to join President Peña Nieto on stage in April to give an impassioned speech about the effects of cannabinoids on his daughter before the Mexican President announced that the country would be pursuing a more compassionate stance on the medical use of marijuana in the country.
HempMeds® Mexico made several key hires this year in their efforts to expand further into Mexico. The company appointed Dion Markgraaff, a 25 year veteran in the cannabis industry, as President of the company. HempMeds® Mexico has also hired Carlos Gonzalez to join their team as Head of Operations.
Gonzalez is an experienced lawyer and customs law expert in Mexico, giving him a unique knowledge of the administrative hurdles the company and its customers need to navigate. Gonzalez is responsible for overall daily operations for HempMeds® Mexico.
Before being named President of HempMeds® Mexico, Markgraaff served as a business development consultant for General Hemp™ LLC, a private equity company founded to support growth in the commercial hemp industry. During this time, Markgraaff was instrumental in opening Mexico’s cannabis market and introducing CBD into the country. He also helped HempMeds® Mexico solidify a partnership with Mexico’s champion for cannabis reform, Raul Elizalde, and his Por Grace Foundation, the leading association fighting to ensure families receive the right to health care and medical access to CBD hemp oil in Mexico. As president of HempMeds® Mexico, Dion Markgraaff will be responsible for heading the company’s push to reach out to Mexico’s health officials, lawmakers, doctors, and patients.
“I plan to assist Mexico through the current cannabis revolution that is happening there right now,” said Markgraaff, regarding his new role with HempMeds® Mexico. “This plant is going to go back to its primary position in society of being revered and worshipped, from it’s current status of being feared and fueling war.”
Recognizing Markgraaff’s potential, the CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc. Dr. Stuart Titus responded, ”We are thrilled that Dion Markgraaff will be heading up our HempMeds® Mexico subsidiary. Mr. Markgraaff’s extensive experience in working to revitalize the cannabis industry will be a tremendous asset as we continue working directly with the Mexican government to safely and legally provide access to CBD hemp oil products to the people of Mexico. In addition, Mr. Markgraaff will help us pursue our work to open up even greater access to our CBD-based products throughout the country, including developing additional ways to educate patients and health professionals on the plethora of medical marijuana’s benefits.”
Educational Symposium in Mexico City
This year, HempMeds® Mexico also hosted their first National Symposium on the benefits of CBD titled Cannabidiol, Medical and Therapeutic Uses. Renowned Mexican physician Dr. Saul Garza Morales spoke at the event on the benefits of CBD, sharing compelling data from his recent, independent study of CBD’s effects on epileptic children. Cannabidiol, Medical and Therapeutic Uses presented a unique educational opportunity for the doctors of Mexico to learn about cannabidiol and how to prescribe RSHO-X™ to their patients.
“One of our objectives [for this event] is to share with health professionals the results of international clinical studies that focus on the neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids, as well as several clinical applications,” said Dion Markgraaff, President of HempMeds® Mexico.
CBD Study on Epileptic Children
HempMeds® Mexico’s RSHO-X™ was at the center of a recent study on the effects of CBD and epilepsy. Renowned Mexican physician Dr. Carlos G. Aguirre Velazquez announced the results of a new survey conducted on children with refractory epilepsy. Participation in the study was voluntary, and study criteria required a diagnosis of refractory epilepsy such as Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet, Doose, or other similar conditions, and the current use of medicinal cannabis (usually a pure CBD extract).
The survey, submitted to parents of the Por Grace Foundation, found that out of 53 cases of children who were treated with cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil, 60 percent showed a reduction in seizures.
The study, conducted by Dr. Velazquez, Professor of Pediatric Neurology at the Monterrey Institute of Technology’s School of Medicine, also reported that in seizure crises treated with CBD hemp oil, 16 percent were completely controlled and 51 percent improved in either a “moderately to an important way”. Results from the study were presented to other doctors across Mexico as part of an ongoing effort inside the country to inform health professionals on the therapeutic uses of cannabis.
“Hemp for All” Mexico Senate Event
HempMeds® Mexico was the main exhibitor at the Senate of Mexico’s historic exhibition “Hemp for All,” held in October on the second floor terrace of the Senate building. The exhibition was held in an open space where medical cannabis advocates were be able to share information on the many therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana to both Mexican lawmakers and the media.
“We are excited about the opportunity that the Mexican Senate is taking to learn more about cannabis and are optimistic that lawmakers in Mexico will continue working together to put together a complete marijuana reform bill that will benefit their citizens and continue their country’s compassionate position on health,” said Dr. Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc.
Further Expansion into Latin America
HempMeds® Mexico also worked to open several new Latin American markets this past year, expanding efforts into Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Paraguay. As the tide of opinion regarding medical marijuana continues to change in Latin America, HempMeds® Mexico and Medical Marijuana, Inc. will work alongside activists and patients in efforts to bring access to those who need it most.
RSHO-X™ Approved for Side Effects of Cancer Treatment
The company announced this winter that RSHO-X™ received approval from the Mexican health authority, COFEPRIS, similar to the FDA in the U.S., for import by a patient suffering from cancer. The patient was prescribed RSHO-X™ for the treatment of pain associated with cancer treatment, as well as for improved general well-being.
The first patient with cancer to receive permission from COFEPRIS is a 44-year-old woman suffering from Stage 5 breast cancer. COFEPRIS has given the patient authorization to import and use THC-free RSHO-X™ to treat the pain she experiences due to her chemotherapy treatment.
Traditional treatments – like chemotherapy – cause a number of harsh side effects, including headaches, muscle pain, and stomach pain, as well as pain from nerve damage most often found in the fingers and toes. COFEPRIS has approved the use of RSHO-X™ THC-free hemp oil to address these side effects of chemotherapy and improve the patient’s quality of life during treatment.
Cannabis reform and new directions
Lawmakers in Mexico voted in December of 2016 to pass significant medical marijuana reform in the country. The new medical marijuana law would open access to multiple types of cannabis products, including those containing THC for the first time, by making several classification changes for cannabis in the country’s controlled substances list. The reform initiative has passed in the Senate of the Republic and is now on its way to the Chamber of Deputies for a vote there. If it passes in February, the reform bill will become law, relaxing restrictions on the medical use of cannabis.
This change in medical marijuana laws may soon create a unique opportunity for HempMeds® Mexico to begin to export its entire product line to Mexico, as well as continue to ship its THC-free RSHO-X™, creating a promising climate in the coming year.
HempMeds® Mexico and Medical Marijuana, Inc. are grateful for the opportunity to provide CBD hemp oil to patients in Mexico and look forward to another successful year working side by side with doctors, patients, and policy makers in Mexico to ensure those in need of CBD have access to it.
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