Encuentro Cannabico was the first expo to happen in Mexico after the guidelines for regulation were released by the government. Taking place at Expo Reforma in Mexico City, companies from Canada, the US and the UK were already set up with booths advertising products that they intend to sell in Mexico now that the regulations are rapidly progressing.
Shortly after the release of the October 31st guidelines, 38 products were registered to be imported into Mexico from 4 different companies. All of these registrations were pushed through before the change of government, giving them a first to market advantage including publicity around being the first to market.
Because the regulations are still being formed, and this is a new industry to be regulated, there are a lot of loopholes and many products are already being sold in a legal gray area outside of the “first group of registered products.” We spoke to some of these companies and they have been selling product in Mexico for 5 years or more. As we have seen in Canada and the US, even after legalization and regulation, there will continue to be an active black market.
At the expo, among the exhibitors, we also saw a big push for “home grows” or growing for personal consumption, with a few booths set up selling materials and soil to successfully grow cannabis in your home. The assumption is that this will be a big market for self cultivators, as most of the cannabis bills being pushed through Congress allow for the cultivation of up to 19 plants for personal consumption.
There were a multitude of vape pens being advertised at the event, which was surprising because while the Mexican government has been very open about cannabis thus far (citing that they will allow anything from oils to alcoholic beverages) they have been perpetually on the fence about vaping.
Vaping, in general, (outside of cannabis) has been a source of tension for regulators and the public as in the past they have banned e-cigarettes and therefore have incorrectly labeled any vape or vape fluid as a tobacco product. A the same time as Encuentro Cannabico was taking place, there was a completely non-cannabis related vaping conference being held on a different floor of the Expo Reforma, and we spoke to the owner of this conference who told us that they were expecting to possibly be shut down because of the uneasiness in the laws regarding vape products. They were not shut down, however, and their conference was a great success, indicating that if/when the regulations smooth out regarding vaping, this will be a popular product on the Mexican cannabis market.
NRS’ overall takeaway from Encuentro Cannabico is that there are many companies from all parts of Mexico and all over the world already positioned in the Mexico market, ready to sell and already advertising. With a population of 138 million and a well established import and export market, there is a great opportunity here, and this opportunity has not been lost on many companies and entrepreneurs around the world.