Marijuana Inc. eyes Mexico as drug liberalization looms

miércoles 20 de enero de 2016 10:50 GYT

By Gabriel Stargardter

MEXICO CITY Jan 20 (Reuters) - Many top companies cashing in on legal cannabis are considering a bet on Mexico after a Supreme Court decision raised hopes for a legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in a country reeling from years of gruesome drug violence.

From medical marijuana growers to pot private equity firms, many weed entrepreneurs see Mexico as a tempting new business opportunity even though cannabis is still illegal and the market is currently controlled by ruthless drug cartels.

"Me personally, I'm not afraid to go to Mexico," said Daniel Sparks, head of government affairs at BioTrackTHC, a U.S.-based provider of marijuana supply-chain software.

He said that just as mafia groups and bootleggers gave up on illicit moonshine after Prohibition ended in the United States, Mexico's drug gangs would have little interest in a legal marijuana market, especially if it lured in reputable pharmaceutical and tech firms.

"I am not so optimistic to think that a cannabis business in Mexico would not encounter opposition or violence from the cartels. However, their profit margins are being eroded daily, monthly and yearly by the continued expansion of medical and recreational marijuana programs in more and more U.S. states."

Canada's new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has promised to legalize the drug and a Supreme Court decision in November opened the door for Mexico to one day follow suit, prompting the ruling party to present a bill to regulate medical marijuana.

"It shows North America ... is moving in the same direction, and that's more than just symbolic: it's indicative of what will happen at a global scale," said Brendan Kennedy, chief executive of pot private equity firm Privateer Holdings. "Mexico is an interesting investment opportunity."

His firm calculates a legal medical and recreational cannabis market in Mexico could be worth $1.7 billion a year.   Continuación...