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Mexico Marijuana Laws & Policy

After more than a year of allowing patients with prescriptions to import cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil, Mexican lawmakers approved legislation that legalized the use of low-THC marijuana for medical purposes. While possession of a limited amount of cannabis has been decriminalized in Mexico, it is still illegal to use, possess, cultivate, transport and sell marijuana. Recent proposals from the nation’s president, however, indicate the country could be on the verge of further relaxing its laws.

Current Legislation

It is not legal to possess, sell, transport or cultivate cannabis in Mexico. However, on August 21, 2009, Mexico decriminalized “personal use” possession of small quantities of marijuana. Under the country’s health code, Mexican law allows for possess of up to 5 grams of marijuana, which is deemed to be intended for personal use. Individuals caught with cannabis amounts under the personal-use limit of 5 grams are encouraged to seek treatment. Treatment is mandatory for those who are caught a third time.

Penalties of possessing more than 5 grams and up to 5,000 grams of cannabis include 10 months to 3 years in prison and a fine. Anyone who supplies cannabis to another, even if the transaction is free and if the amount supplied falls within the allowed “personal use” amount, is subject to 4 to 8 years in prison and a fine.

In January 2016, the Mexican Government began hosting a series of national, public debates, scheduled to continue through February 2016, about whether or not marijuana should be legalized in the country. The public was able to share their own voice about marijuana policy reform opposite ’s condemnation of marijuana. In April 2016, President Enrique Peña Nieto, previously a strong opponent of marijuana legalization, proposed further relaxing marijuana laws by raising the amount of marijuana users can legally carry from 5 grams to 28 grams. With Mexico plagued by deadly drug cartel violence, President Peña Nieto believes his proposal would help curtail cartels by offering alternatives and opportunities to consumers. The Mexican Senate approved the bill in June 2016, but will have to vote again in September after legislators made edits to the bill.

Outside of the debates and President Peña Nieto bill, in a historic move, Mexico legalized all non-psychotropic cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), for medical use. To be clear, this excludes THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana that gets you high. Families within Mexico can now import CBD hemp oil into the country with a valid doctor prescription and permit from COFEPRIS.

Mexican law still prohibits the cultivation of industrial hemp. However, hemp can be imported and is used to make a variety of products.

Medical Marijuana Laws

The Mexican Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation on April 28, 2017 that legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The new law makes it legal to buy, sell, import and export cannabis products containing concentrations of 1 percent THC or less.

Prior to the passing of the medical marijuana law, the Mexican government was allowing patients with a prescription to legally import and use cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil. The government first gave permission for an 8 year old girl, Grace Elizalde, with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, to legally import and use CBD hemp oil in September 2015. After the Elizalde family were allowed to import CBD hemp oil, they set up the Por Grace Por Todos Foundation (For Grace, For Everybody) to give other families facing similar situations in Mexico a platform to fight for their rights as well.

On February 1, 2016, the Mexican equivalent of the FDA, COFEPRIS, issued two additional authorization permits for the import of CBD hemp oil products into the country. Both permits went to two young girls, Alina and Maria Paula, suffering from epilepsy to import Real Scientific Hemp Oil-X™ (RSHO-X™).

In authorizing these two permits, COFEPRIS also announced that they would allow other people and families in Mexico to import RSHO-X™ with a written prescription from their doctor and permit from COFEPRIS. In this way, almost any health indication is allowable wherein a doctor deems CBD hemp oil as a viable option for treatment.

While personal use of cannabis has been decriminalized in Mexico, it is still illegal to use, possess, cultivate, transport and sell.

Traveling With CBD? Here Are Your Guidelines

September 9, 2019

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Written By:
John Montague, Esq.
CEO & Founder of Maku

CBD (now federally legal) is confusing to understand.

You hear different things from different people. You are going on vacation or traveling for work. You wonder ‘Should you bring the CBD? Could I get in any sort of trouble if I do?’. These are valid questions. I have found myself asking the same ones, traveling with CBD oil and generally concerned about the public’s knowledge and that of law enforcement agencies. Standing in an airport terminal with a bottle of CBD I have wondered, is this German Shepard in Jacksonville going to get a sniff of my CBD? Is that adorable English Springer in London going to tip off the authorities that I am traveling with a low THC cannabis products?

It’s understandable that getting into the newly formed waters of CBD regulations can be intimidating without a trusted source. Laws and regulations change seemingly everyday and the normal media outlets typically do not provide holistic education and guidance for a national supplement phenomenon.

I’ve traveled around the world exploring the legality of CBD domestically and abroad. Prior to founding Maku, I was responsible for drafting and researching the legality of CBD prior to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “2018 Farm Bill”). In line with Maku’s mission to provide the best possible CBD knowledge, my goal is to (1) offer you some clarity with respect to domestic travel and (2) offer words to caution you with respect to international travel and flying with CBD.

Best Practices & Tips

I thought it would be helpful to provide some highlights, with respect to traveling with CBD, as well as some context and color to the underlying regulations. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to CBD to include gummies, edibles, vape-pens, tinctures and all other products (with the exception of flower that I will discuss at the end of the article).

CBD containing less than .3 percent THC

Under the Controlled Substances Act, Congress has generally prohibited the possession, distribution, manufacture, cultivation, sale, transfer, or the attempt or conspiracy to possess, distribute, manufacture, cultivate, of marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill states that it’s important that any CBD product you travel with contains less than .3 percent by dry weight and volume. Although both marijuana and industrial hemp (or “CBD”) come from the cannabis plant, the THC concentration is the main distinction between “industrial hemp” or “CBD” and marijuana.

Flying Domestic with CBD

Flying with CBD is allowed now according to recent Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) guidance, with the TSA stating:

“Marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law, except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities.”

As you can see above, the TSA is mirroring the position of congress and provides a simple carve out for traveling with CBD. Here at Maku, we hope that CBD can provide for a soothing experience amidst the bustle/friction of air travel. In particular, having CBD can be handy for traveling, because it is legal at the federal level and “state-by-state” regulations with respect to medical marijuana cards can be confusing and the fees can be expensive.

Flying International with CBD

The rules and regulations can vary from country-to-country and some countries do not make the legal distinction between CBD and marijuana. So, it is very important to have a clear understanding of each countries rules and regulations regarding the consumption and importation of CBD in different countries.

Driving with CBD

As mentioned above, CBD is legal on the federal level, so if you are ever questioned by law enforcement about it while on the road, I would show them the product website, cite the 2018 Farm Bill, and also show the third party lab report of the product you are carrying (which should be available on the CBD merchant’s website). If law enforcement continues to give you trouble after completing those steps, then I would suggest that you consult with an attorney in your local jurisdiction. With respect to possession of CBD, while in the United States, you are generally in the clear. One legal area of note is DWI or DUI, while using CBD. Although CBD does not cause euphoria, and generally does not impair motor function, a high dose could result in excessive sleepiness behind the wheel, a dangerous combination. You should consult a physician before taking CBD, and discuss with them the potential effects of CBD on your body. Also, common sense is key while driving and using any supplement, medication, or legal intoxicant.

Cruising with CBD

As mentioned before, the rules and regulations can vary from country-to-country. Also, each cruise-line likely has its own policies and procedures with respect to CBD, depending on the port of destination. For this reason, it is best to err on the side of caution and not bring CBD on your cruise, unless you have received express authorization from the cruise line or port of destination.

Traveling Abroad with CBD

Now that I have given you a brief overview of some of my “best practice” tips when traveling with CBD, I’ll provide you with an overview of places that I have recently traveled to and have experience in. Of course, it is always the best course of action to take the least possible legal risk when traveling to other countries.

Traveling to Canada with CBD

Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) will specifically ask you if you are carrying any cannabis at customs, stating “transporting cannabis across the border in any form – including any oils containing THC or cannabidiol (CBD) – without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada remains a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada.” Most people are well aware that Canada has legalized recreational marijuana use; however, most people would not understand (or at least think) that it is actually illegal for them to possess a legal substance without a permit. For these reasons, it is important to research the countries that you are traveling to, so you can understand the rules and regulations for each jurisdiction.

Traveling to The Bahamas with CBD

Closely related to cruising is traveling to the Bahamas. Although the Bahamas has not decriminalized cannabis or CBD generally, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands has stated “Yes, it is legal” to reporters. However, this is inconsistent with the Dangerous Drugs Act, which “includes all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not from which the resin has not been extracted; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant or resin.” Moreover, as stated by the Nassua Guardian there may be some legislative updates, reporting “in July the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana recommended the declassification of marijuana as a dangerous drug in all legislation and the reclassification of the drug as a controlled substance, as noted in its report presented at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government Meeting.”

Traveling to Mexico with CBD

According to Forbes, “on June 19, 2017 President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a bill into law that officially legalized the cultivation, production, and use of medical cannabis products with less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ) in Mexico.” It’s unclear what the rules and regulations are with respect to traveling to Mexico with CBD, so I have elected to steer clear of this jurisdiction.

In Conclusion – Playing It Safe

I know from experience that traveling with CBD can be a daunting process. As a general rule of thumb: traveling domestically can be generally considered safe , although it makes sense to err on the side of caution with respect to international travel . Bringing CBD into the wrong country can result in criminal charges. However, if you are in a domestic airport and you see our authorities fluffy little companions walk by, feel free to hold your ground. Perhaps even go up and give that dog a pet, because you are in the clear with TSA.

Author’s Note: please note that this article is intended to be for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice in any capacity. Communication of information by, in, to or through this Web site and your receipt or use of it (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel on your specific matter. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon Web site communications or advertisements.

CBD (now federally legal) is confusing to understand. You hear different things from different people. You are going on vacation or traveling for work. Should you fly with CBD? Am I going to get in any sort of trouble? These thoughts may be going through your mind. Here's what you need to know. ]]>