Cannabis: The Good, Bad and In-Between of DecriminalizationBy Miriam Bello | Fri, 12/18/2020 - 12:44
Q: What are the key implications from the decriminalization of cannabis use?
A: There are a number of dimensions to this issue. Of course, human rights and freedom of access to cannabis is a fundamental matter. Undeniably, people can decide for themselves what they want to do. But there is also the issue of public health and safety. On the one hand, we know that the production and commercialization of drugs has contributed in large part to the critical security situation in Mexico. This productive and illegal chain has generated an increase in consumption and with it, an increase in related diseases. Historically, the country had been a base for production and distribution of drugs but now, unfortunately, we have become a country of high consumption and in most cases, people do not use high-quality drugs. Moreover, not only do people use narcotics but also other substances that are severely harmful to health. Decriminalization can help in this regard. But the most important factor in decriminalizing cannabis is that those people suffering from an illness and who could obtain health benefits from using a cannabis product can have access to it. States have a responsibility to ensure the public health of their citizens and this is a step toward open access to this resource.
The decriminalization of the recreational use of cannabis has many other positive aspects, such as the recognition of the free will of each individual. One must also take into account the impact on the public health system and the economy. The regulated production and marketing of cannabis, which will now be taxed, will generate a windfall for the public treasury.
There are also issues that remain unsolved. Some cannabis products are not necessarily psychoactive but, at the end of the day, they will also be over-regulated. Industrial hemp, for example, will eventually be affected by this regulation. This product is derived from cannabis but is not psychoactive and has many industrial uses.
From an intellectual property point of view, we are more than ready to protect inventions and technological developments related to cannabis.
Q: To achieve clarity for its use and open a potential market, what do authorities need to keep in mind when developing a regulatory framework?
A: I think there should be a record of the entire production chain. Cannabis is and probably will still be such a controversial product that the very least, we need to know who is producing it, where are the markets and how is it distributed. It should be tracked in the same way as medicines and food products. Today, everyone has to comply with the new labeling regulation but a formal registry is still needed. In the cannabis industry, the same framework is necessary.
Q: How will an inexperienced national industry compete with the multinational competitors that have had their eyes on Mexico for years?
A: I am convinced that Mexico can compete commercially with any country on almost any product. Before the decriminalization of cannabis, the country was already the world leader in production. Mexico's level of production is sufficient to serve the national and international markets. There is a great opportunity for the Mexican industry to become the main supplier worldwide.
Q: What are the most important points that cannabis regulation must include in terms of marketing and promotion?
A: There has been a global campaign against tobacco for many years, so it seems to me that it will not be possible to implement marketing strategies in the cannabis industry either. The industry will have to get quite creative in promoting its products. From a pharmacological point of view, there is also no great culture of promoting of medicines. Mexico has always been reluctant to open up advertising channels to this type of product.
Becerril, Coca & Becerril (BC&B) is a Mexican law firm established in 1969 that specializes in intellectual property and provides consultancy services for patent applications in the pharmaceutical, chemical and electrical sectors, among others.