Welcome to the first of two blog posts on frequently asked questions regarding cannabis in Mexico.
Because we are one of very few American law firms with an office in Mexico that handles Mexico cannabis legal matters, we get a steady stream of questions regarding the current state of Mexico’s cannabis regime, and what to expect in the future. Our position on cannabis overall in Mexico is that it will eventually be very big and companies should be preparing now to enter this market. Below are some of the more common Mexico cannabis questions we get, along with our answers.
Do applicants for cannabis licenses in Mexico have to be Mexican companies or Mexican residents?
It is important to set up a Mexican company. Though not expressly mandated by law, when you look at the cannabis permits/licenses application requirements you realize that those are applicable to/can be complied with only by Mexican companies. We generally recommend a private-equity firm or SAPI. Applying as an individual is possible, but you must include in your application(s) contact information within the country.
Do I need a medical cannabis license as a consumer/patient like in the USA or will it be different in Mexico?
As a consumer/patient, you need a prescription issued by a physician to be able to purchase cannabis medicines either here or abroad. A prescription is also necessary to apply for a special import permit for the medicine(s) you need.
Is flower consumption observed in medical use?
Yes. The Medical Regulations include the flower in the definition of raw material “necessary for the manufacturing of pharmacological derivatives and medicines”, whereas one of the requisites to apply for a growing license is to specify an estimated harvest quantity, “including amount of flowers and plant residue.”
What are the requirements for filing a foreign trademark associated with cannabis/marijuana in Mexico?
The main requirement is that your trademark is related to medical or industrial use. If that is the case, then requirements are the same as when you apply for any trademark registration, regardless of the place where it was first registered.
An application must be filed before the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI), the Mexican Patent and Trademark Office. Among other requirements, it must contain:
- the name and trademark design to be registered;
- the date of first use (if applicable);
- a list of establishments or businesses where such prior use has taken place;
- the products of services you intend to have covered by the registration per the Nice Classification;
- a trademark description; and
- payment of applicable fees.
If applicant is a foreign individual or entity and a trademark has been registered abroad before, then all relevant documentations, duly translated and legalized must be submitted.
As you can see, considerations here are rather of a more common nature:
- avoid generic/similar trademarks;
- remember that trademarks covering services related to cannabis rather than cannabis as such are more likely to be granted registration; and
- be mindful that as long as cannabis is not fully legal (i.e. medical, industrial and adult uses fully regulated), IMPI has leeway to interpret the law.
It is your Mexican cannabis attorney’s job to convince IMPI that a) your trademark, if related to medical use, is not against the law and b) because of this, goods/services related to your trademark do not promote consumption of a drug.
What are the requirements to attain a permit to grow and supply CBD in Mexico?
First off, it is important to point out that in Mexico there is no distinction between CBD and hemp derived-CBD like in the U.S. Instead, what defines cannabis for medical, industrial or recreational use is the actual use given to the plant (either raw or processed), and not just the amount of THC (1%). We can thus have medical cannabis products under and over the 1% THC standard, whereas anything (plants/derivatives/products) below 1% THC content is considered “hemp” (cáñamo industrial) and also open for industrial (i.e. non-medical and non-adult) use.
Further, given the question’s wording, we will assume that they meant CBD in its raw form. Note that starting in June 2021, license holders will be able to grow CBD for medical use only, in a confined area (greenhouse). They will also be able to import raw materials (materiales vegetativos: plant, seeds, etc.) and cannabinoids (THC, CBD in its raw form) for medicine manufacturing.
Import of any product containing CBD for non-medical uses or containing THC is not allowed. This means that no cosmetics, edibles, or supplements will be allowed into the country. Actual requirements are addressed in the next question.
Stay tuned for part two in this series on Mexican cannabis frequently asked questions. We will cover questions on retail point of sale, cannabis company formation disclosures, and the requirements to start producing, processing and selling cannabis in Mexico.