BAJA CALIFORNIA, Mexico
As cannabis legalization law continues to stagnate in Mexico, these traffickers are already bringing California’s premium marihuana south of the border.
José *, who wears a cap, beige T-shirt, and glasses, does not look like an international drug trafficker. But it is.
José looks like any millennial in his early 30s. His casual clothes look more like that of a bookstore clerk than someone who participates in the eternal illicit drug trade that has existed for centuries on the border between the United States and Mexico. . But this is because your business niche is new.
José is following a new trend: instead of bringing illegal drugs north to the United States, he buys marijuana from a high-quality dispensary in California and smuggles it south to his native Mexico, in this way he takes a legal product and it turns into smuggling.
“We see it as a medicine, we do not see it as a drug,” said José, explaining that although some of his clients are simply great connoisseurs of marijuana, “there are people in Mexico who really need it.”
“There are people who suffer from multiple diseases of many types and do not have this on hand. So, it is not just a market for recreational purposes, but mainly one for medicinal purposes, “he said.
Mexico has moved slowly and slowly toward legalization since the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that banning marijuana was unconstitutional. In April, the third deadline that the Supreme Court had given Mexican legislators to approve the legalization of marijuana expired and they did not formally request an extension. That leaves the legislation in limbo until the new session of Congress begins in September.
Meanwhile, Jose has found a market willing to pay a 10 percent premium for superior products from legal cannabis pharmacies in California, USA.
“Without a doubt, Mexican [marijuana] is continually improving,” José said. “Although it still does not reach 100 percent the quality of the Californian.”
José began smuggling US-produced marijuana south nearly a decade ago during California’s medical marijuana boom, and since then he and his associates have never been caught or lost a load of marijuana. Their product passes through Mexican customs posts approximately twice a month, in paid delivery trucks that return to Mexico after delivering merchandise in the United States. Pandemic restrictions have closed the land border, but trucks are considered essential traffic.
“It is much more difficult [to smuggle] into the United States than into [Mexico],” José said. Most vehicles entering Mexico are not stopped unless they are randomly selected by a traffic light system, which he said is predictable if you study it.
José seems to have found a niche that Mexico’s notorious drug cartels are not interested in, perhaps because the 10 percent profit margin is pennies compared to the money they make transporting drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine to the United States.
José hopes that Mexico will soon legalize marijuana and be able to enter the market freely, although he is not yet sure how the new laws would work.
“We would love to have a grow license, maybe a distribution license or a dispensary license,” he said. “I think one of those three options would be great.”
But that will require patience.
After the federal government failed to pass a marijuana legalization bill in April, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on June 28 that certain laws prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana were struck down. The Mexican government will have to issue permits to citizens for the personal use of marijuana and the cultivation of cannabis plants in small quantities.
Mexico made some progress in relation to medical marijuana, so regulations for its production, research, and use were published at the beginning of the year. But without a law legalizing cannabis for adults in general, most marijuana restrictions are still in effect for ordinary citizens.
Seeking to have a head start, Baja California Governor Jaime Bonilla submitted a controversial bill to local congress to move forward with the state legalization of medical cannabis.
Emmanuel Farías Camarero, a lawyer for the Baja California-based medical cannabis advocacy group Fundación Loto Rojo, says that drug regulation is the exclusive prerogative of the Mexican federal government, which would make Bonilla’s proposal unconstitutional if approved.
Mexico’s General Health Law stipulates that the regulation of “narcotic drugs and psychotropics, such as cannabis, is exclusive” to federal authorities, he said.
Details of federal legislation that is stalled in Congress have been criticized by activists. They point to the proposed fines, prison time for possession, and the lack of affirmative action initiatives to help those affected by prohibition in the past, such as poor cannabis farmers whose crops were eradicated.
“Mexico still doesn’t understand the basics of sensible cannabis regulation,” said Camarero. But if the legalization is approved, he believes that the border state of Baja California should “take advantage of its strategic location, and thus learn from the experience of California.”
“I think the same should happen with the cannabis industry, it should learn from the success or failure of dispensaries, the implementation of public policies, and the best cultivation techniques,” said Camarero. “I think it is even possible to generate an interesting collaboration by mixing the best of both regions. Maybe launch a Cali-Baja kush marijuana, or produce some mole-infused edible, or something like that. “
California has undoubtedly become one of the leaders in the global cannabis industry since it became the first state in the United States to grant permits for the medical use of marijuana and medical marijuana dispensaries in 2005. It is known to have made advance the entire industry, from the various strains and edibles to marijuana technology, microdosing products, and CBD.
The flow of U.S. marijuana to Mexico began around the same time, years before California’s legalization law went into effect on January 1, 2018, explained Diego *, another legal U.S. marijuana smuggler living in Baja California.
“I was one of the first and they said, ‘Man, are you crazy. Why the hell are you bringing that over there? ‘” Diego smiled as he remembered when he began to smuggle medical marijuana across the border in the mid-2000s.
When medical marijuana became accessible in California, it seemed natural to Diego that Baja California would also have access to it.
“I was born about a minute from the border. So, for me, this border should never have existed, ”Diego said.
He listed the main cities in Mexico to which he claims to have shipped legal marijuana from the United States, but insisted that he and his associates “are not part of any (drug) cartel.”
Diego said that they are just “sharing love.”
But with legalization potentially on the horizon, he believes that Baja California is an ideal location in Mexico to capitalize on the production of its own legal marijuana, as it is “a super fertile place, with a Mediterranean climate. We have amazing microclimates ”.
He added that “it could be great for tourism. We already have very good food, very good beer … Why not have very good cannabis? ”Diego hypothetically asked. “Legally, without making anyone a criminal, because that ruins things. And if he is a respectable person, why does he have to become a criminal? “
But as long as cannabis remains illegal, “there will be many more smugglers. It is one of the oldest professions.”
* Names were changed to keep their true identities anonymous.
Which is the correct way: marijuana, marijuana, or marijuana ?
Marijuana and Marijuana forms are correct. The marijuana form is preferred in the cult use of all Spanish-speaking countries. For its part, marijuana is less frequent and is only used in Mexico and some Central American countries.