The impending full legalization of the marijuana business in the country opens the way for a multi-billion dollar business and a race to see who will keep the profits.
Four months ago, in the Senate of a country where the war on drug trafficking has left more than 250,000 dead in just over a decade, a Canadian businessman dedicated to the cannabis business told congressmen: “Its location in the world is perfect, their labor costs are perfect, their climate is perfect (…) Let private companies expand their businesses, do what they know how to do. ” The words of Erick Factor, founder of MYM Nutraceuticals, made clear the turn in the drug debate and also the interests at stake behind the project for the total legalization of cannabis in Mexico. The country could become the largest legal marijuana market in the world in the coming months. And nobody wants to be left out.
For months, the eyes of the big names in the cannabis business have been on the Mexican Senate. Some companies have lobbyists who walk the halls of the upper house in hopes of taking a slice of a multi-million dollar business. Some have already spoken to a high-profile politician to be the Sherpa to guide them to the promised land. Other groups scrutinize the requirements for small producers in an industry that seemed unimaginable a few years ago. Several foreign investors follow the process step by step, most notably Canada, the first industrialized country to legalize recreational cannabis and the one with the largest cannabis industry on the world market.
But while some follow the money, others look suspiciously. Civil organizations warn that a law tailored to big capitals would vanish the possibility of incorporating small producers and peasants into the legal market and paying a historic debt for a prohibitionist policy that has killed more than the drugs themselves. “As it stands now, the proposed law privileges foreign companies because you would need a multi-million dollar investment to enter that market,” says Zara Snapp, founder of the RIA Institute, dedicated to public policy research. “It is worrying, we do not want another extractive industry that exploits the resources and takes the benefits,” he adds.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice declared five articles of the General Health Law unconstitutional that prohibited the use of cannabis for recreational purposes and gave the Legislative a year to create a new regulation. Morena – the party in government after that year’s elections – and the opposition saw the ruling as an opportunity to push through a comprehensive law that would make Mexico the third country in the world to fully legalize marijuana. But the deadline expired last October without legislators agreeing to issue the law, criticized for putting insurmountable barriers to entry for small producers.
Ricardo Monreal, Morena’s strong man in the Senate, blamed the impasse on the lack of consensus and the influence of pressure groups . “It is spectacular what percentage lobbyists are around here,” he aforesaid. The Supreme Court granted an extension that ends in April and the Senate, which began sessions last Saturday, is already rushing a bill to be discussed in plenary. Meanwhile, the actors involved remain in suspense. Buy Hemp cigarettes online.
“Mexico is definitely very interesting, the next big event for many cannabis entrepreneurs,” says Factor, the businessman who participated in a Senate forum last October, in an interview. Factor says that skepticism is understandable, but that there are fair business opportunities for everyone involved. “I wouldn’t qualify my visit as lobbying , rather it absolutely was regarding sharing the expertise and ability of our country to allow clarity to Mexican legislators,” he says.
“In Mexico, there is a unique opportunity to have comprehensive legislation that addresses the issue of cannabis from its production to its commercialization,” says Canopy Growth , the largest Canadian company in the sector in terms of market capitalization, by email. “We are following with interest the development of legislation and regulation in Mexico,” says the company, but insists that “any analysis of the new legal framework is” still very premature. ” Canopy, registered within the Senate lobby list, avoids commenting on the criticism and on what it’s mentioned with Mexican lawmakers.
Canada’s industry sees Mexico as a potential $ 2.25 billion market that will largely depend on marijuana business being released for recreational use, according to consulting firm Cannacord Genuity. Its analysts believe that the proposal that failed in October offers “feasible, but not ideal” business opportunities because it limited the participation of foreigners to 20% of the capital stock of a company and prevented vertical integration; that is to say: that a single company controls several phases of the production and marketing process.
The consultancy considers that Khiron, a Colombian-Canadian company, is the best positioned to enter the Mexican market. He has experience with regulations in other countries in the region such as Colombia and Uruguay and has former President Vicente Fox (2000-2006) on his board of directors, a cover letter that includes in practically every statement and financial report. Khiron plans to reach Mexico in the first quarter of this year and aims to reach 11.7 million consumers. EL PAÍS requested an interview, but the company did not reply.
Fox declined for agenda reasons. Aurora Cannabis, another Canadian company that announced in December last year the purchase of Master Pharmacies, the first firm to obtain permission to import raw materials with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) into Mexico, also did not respond to requests. Like Aphria, one of the largest marijuana business companies in the Canadian market. Almost everyone interested opts for caution and silence becomes eloquent. No one wants to risk a legislative process in which many things remain to be decided. Check here to buy CBD cigarettes online.
The arrival of Canadian capital caused controversy in Colombia, which issued a law in 2017 to regulate the consumption and export of medicinal cannabis. “Khiron and other companies with financial muscle were always one step ahead,” explains Luis Felipe Cruz, a researcher at the organization De Justicia. “They had the money and the experts, even greater technical capacity than the state, and under the table, they dictated how the regulation had to be,” says the Colombian specialist. “The government didn’t savvy to handle expectations well and zilch modified for producers generally or within the nonlegal markets, that are multinational,” he says. Diana Paola Valenzuela, legal director of the Colombian company Anandamida Gardens, details that “there have been obstacles for everyone, even for Canadian funds that financed local companies and had to make their way.”
Some critical voices describe the practices of Canadian companies as “cannabis colonialism” and others affirm that there is room for all kinds of actors. The challenge for the Mexican Congress is enormous. At stake is guaranteeing consumer rights, changing the course of an anti-drug policy that has plunged the country into the worst crisis of violence in its recent history, outlining the rules for what could become the largest legal market for marijuana until now and achieve a political consensus that resists pressure and interests inside and outside the governing coalition. They have three months to do it.