Although Medical marijuana has been legal in Mexico since June 2017, the lack of a regulatory structure has prevented the industry from taking off. That means that those who could benefit from consuming medicinal pot, treating their glaucoma or anxiety with a toke, haven't been able to do so.
Now, however, those regulations are on the horizon. That's because two former Mexican lawmakers and a Denver cannabis consulting company are teaming up to write the regulations themselves.
Héctor Franco, an agricultural engineer, and Armando Luna, a lawyer, are former reps of Mexico's state of Coahuila who have been running Indica and Sativa LTD since 2018. They started the Mexican cannabis company in hopes of becoming industry pioneers in their country. "The motivation for me is that we know it's a very good business and that marijuana is useful to people," Franco says. "It's also a fight for human rights."
Part of that fight involves creating the guidelines that Mexico's government did not. "It's legal. You can do it," Luna notes. "But they forgot to tell us how to do it. So that's what we're doing right now."
Despite having knowledge about politics, law and agriculture in Mexico, the two men recognized early on that they needed outside help to write regulations for their country's medical marijuana industry. An online search led them to Higher Yields Consulting, a Denver-based company that is gaining a reputation in the cannabis industry as a go-to consulting resource.
Higher Yields Consulting is the brainchild of Cory Waggoner, who has been working in the marijuana industry since 2009. He started out in the field a decade ago partnering on marijuana stores and grow facilities. But Waggoner soon noticed just how vague regulations were, and after recreational sales were legalized here in 2012, he also got involved in consulting.
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Waggoner has run his own consulting company since 2015. Outside of Colorado, the company has done work in various states, in addition to Puerto Rico, Australia and Canada. Higher Yields is currently working on projects in Zimbabwe and Portugal, too.
The first part of the Higher Yields project in Mexico aims to establish regulations for importing CBD products for sale in pharmacies; that will be coming to fruition in the next few months. "The Mexican government is a lot more open to CBD," says Waggoner.
But the work to create CBD and THC products in Mexico will take longer, maybe even a few years, because there's more resistance from the executive branch of the Mexican government regarding growth. That's especially true for THC products: One of the country's few regulations regarding medical marijuana requires that an individual have a special permit to acquire products with a THC concentration of greater than one percent.
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Still, the domestic growth of cannabis products is a goal for Franco and Luna. "Importing from other countries is so expensive. We believe that with the better weather here, Mexico can do it at a lower price," says Luna.
And since they're working with medical marijuana, they don't anticipate trouble from the cartels. "Violence comes more from other drugs, like synthetic ones or cocaine," says Luna.
In fact, they believe that by growing the medical marijuana industry and moving the country toward full marijuana legalization, Mexico will see a decrease in crime and have fewer people end up in its prisons. Notes Franco, "Forty-one percent of federal inmates are there for drugs that were worth less than $25."
"It’s really exciting," Waggoner says of his work in Mexico. "Starting where I did to where we are now, it kind of exceeds the expectations I had for Higher Yields and for myself. I never thought I’d be doing international work."