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Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Announces New Marijuana Legislation, Joined Onstage by Medical Marijuana, Inc. Partner Raul Elizalde

After months of lobbying and public education, Medical Marijuana Inc. and HempMeds® Mexico see the rewards of their perseverance in announcement of Mexico’s new marijuana policy.

On Tuesday, the Mexican President teased that he was open to medical marijuana in his country and would reveal further details in the coming days. The announcement came during Peña Nieto’s speech to a UN special session on drug policy.

The UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session) on drug policy was to be held in either 2019 or 2020. However, Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala urged the UN to move the special session up to this year due to the urgency they feel in their countries from the failing drug war. The three countries called for the UN to consider alternative policies to the global drug war, which has been so damaging to their citizens.

The announcement is a surprising change in policy for Peña Nieto, who has long been a staunch opponent of legalizing marijuana, even for medical purposes.

On Tuesday, Peña Nieto tweeted, “We will transit from mere prohibition, towards effective prevention and regulation.Thousands of lives depend on it.”

This announcement comes after months of dialog between the Mexican government, citizen advocates, and the healthcare community. Medical Marijuana Inc. worked tirelessly to expand the access to CBD to the people of Mexico, succeeding in bringing Real Scientific Hemp Oil-X™ to the country as the first legal cannabis product.

In his speech Thursday from Mexico City, Peña Nieto elaborated on a series of anticipated changes to Mexico’s marijuana policy. These changes include an expansion of the medical use of marijuana, a further decriminalization of marijuana from 5 grams to 28, and freeing inmates in jail on minor drug charges. The Mexican President himself acknowledged the significance of this move.

“We Mexicans know all about the range and defects of the prohibitionist approach and the war on drugs of the last 40 years,” the president said in his speech. “Our country has suffered like few others from the effects of organized crime linked to drug trafficking.”

President Peña Nieto is the first sitting Mexican President to propose even partial marijuana reform. However, it comes among a public outcry for support of marijuana legalization.

Raul Elizalde, Grace’s father, first became involved with medical marijuana after his daughter’s diagnosis with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, causing her to experience up to 400 seizures a day.

Frustrated by a lack of options for this difficult to treat disease, Raul became interested in CBD hemp oil after discovering that other families of epileptic children were using it.

Unfortunately, all forms of cannabis, including CBD oil, were prohibited in Mexico at the time, so Elizalde began the Por Grace Foundation to work for access to medical marijuana for his daughter and others in need of alternative therapies.

Similar to the way we positively impacted cannabis legislation in Brazil, Medical Marijuana Inc. quickly became involved in Mexico, building a partnership with the Por Grace Foundation in their push for access to medical marijuana for the citizens in Mexico.

HempMeds® Mexico was created when Medical Marijuana Inc. saw the opportunity to expand access to CBD in Mexico. Working closely with the Por Grace Foundation, HempMeds® Mexico began taking the first steps towards making CBD available to those who desperately needed it. Just as our Real Scientific Hemp Oil™ was the first legal cannabis product imported into Brazil, our RSHO-X™ was the first cannabis based product legally available in Mexico.

With the support of HempMeds® Mexico, Elizalde fought for the right to import CBD hemp oil into Mexico for his daughter, eventually receiving permission from the Mexican government to import RSHO-X™, our zero-THC version of our Real Scientific Hemp Oil™.

Since then, Elizalde has become a vocal advocate for research into the medical potential of cannabis and its derivatives and for its legalization as a medication in his country.

“We are extremely grateful to the Elizalde family and their time and understanding of the need for hemp CBD oil as well as full-spectrum cannabis for healthcare options,” states Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc. “Raul speaks from his heart and is passionate about providing the best possible quality of life for his daughter, Grace, and others throughout Mexico. The Elizalde family’s tireless efforts to access cannabis for medical purposes has clearly resonated with President Nieto and impacted his decision to begin the process of medical marijuana legalization in Mexico.”

Raul Elizalde preceded the President’s announcement with an impassioned speech in which he celebrated the victory of a shift in Mexico’s marijuana policy, saying, “We are finally talking about prevention and regulation instead of talking about prohibition, we are talking about research, medication and therapeutic uses, instead of avoiding or turning our backs on people who are suffering.”

Elizalde went on to stress the effort that still lies ahead: “But this is just the beginning, we have a great deal of work ahead and I say a great deal of work ahead because as a member of a civil society we have to be included in this regulation, as is happening at this moment.”

During his public address today, President Peña Nieto called Raul and Grace’s case an important precedent to future drug reform and recognized his tireless efforts to further medical marijuana in Mexico. However, Raul Elizalde never anticipated being the catalyst for the change in cannabis laws in Mexico. He was only looking to obtain CBD for his young daughter, Grace.

In January of this year, the cannabis movement renewed its effort, and in a matter of weeks, Mexico would enter into public discussion over the future of cannabis in their country by holding a series of five open public debates to allow Mexican citizens the chance to voice their opinions about medical marijuana, which were attended by Elizalde and representatives from Medical Marijuana, Inc. The forums were held across the country and were available to be streamed online to ensure everyone had a chance to participate.

The debates were a chance for the public to assist in fully developing Mexico’s drug policy, and topics covered included regulations, costs, and the social and health impacts of legalization.

Medical Marijuana Inc. proactively sponsored educational events in conjunction with these forums across Mexico hosted by the Por Grace Foundation and was joined by other companies to hold a historic event in Mexico City called, “Medical Cannabis In Mexico: Experiences and Perspectives”.

Medical Marijuana, Inc. also teamed up with the Aguinaco Abogados law firm in Mexico to help the family of another young girl, Alina, who was suffering from epilepsy fight for legal access to CBD hemp oil.

Reaching out to the girl’s parents, we took all the necessary steps on behalf of the family to secure the right to CBD for Alina. After a successful petitioning of the Mexican equivalent to the FDA, COFEPRIS, Abelardo Maldonado Constantino received one of the first two permits awarded by COFEPRIS to import Real Scientific Hemp Oil-X™ for his daughter.

In February, Abelardo rode the bus 8 hours each way to the COFEPRIS offices to pick up the historic permit needed to import CBD hemp oil for Alina.

It seems the experience of seeing the effects of CBD may have helped change President Peña Nieto’s position. Previously, the President had spoken out against legalization.

“It isn’t valid, and I don’t agree, that this legalization would make it easier to fight organized crime by reducing the illicit income and profits from this activity,” the Mexican President said just a couple months ago. “That would beg the question, should we put the health of Mexican children and youths at risk in order to combat organized crime?”

Today, he changed perspectives when he announced his new marijuana policy and a compassionate approach to patient health and dignity.

President Peña Nieto is just one of a number of politicians in Latin America who have recently turned their back on policies of prohibition and started to consider the benefits of legalization. However, the need for a revised marijuana policy is nowhere as evident as in Mexico. In the grip of cartel violence, the current policies have been insufficient in deterring rampant drug related crime – that point was made clear by Mexico’s citizens during the open forums – so it is promising to see Mexico’s leadership taking a proactive step towards cannabis legalization.

  • April 25, 2016
  • Eve Ripley