PanamaTimes

Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

‘This is another revolution’: could legalisation of cannabis transform Mexico’s economy?

‘This is another revolution’: could legalisation of cannabis transform Mexico’s economy?

Despite frustrating legislative delays, farmers in Mexico are keen to start growing a crop that may be more profitable than rice, corn or sugar

The pungent aroma of cannabis and the sound of dub music fill the air at a hacienda as about 150 smokers, users, growers, activists and business people gather for Mexico’s second annual Toquefest.

In anticipation of the long-delayed legalisation of cannabis – after a number of supreme court decisions decreed the right to cultivate and deemed unconstitutional the ban on recreational use – the war on weed in Mexico is winding down and the festival is just one of 20 marijuana-related events being held across the country.

Cannabis growers feel increasingly confident in going public and some farmers are switching crops to la Santa Rosa: a gram of which can be sold for more than several kilos of black beans.

“This is another revolution,” says Isidro Cisneros, a grower from the town of Cuautlixco in the state of Morelos where the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata was born. “It’s about land and freedom, and a plant that has been criminalised for years without good reason. Growing cannabis, peasants can live and eat well.”

Cisneros – who began growing cannabis in 2022 – is part of the campaign group Plan Tetecala, which has gained the support of the state human rights commission.

One of many growers selling their products late last year at Toquefest in Puebla, two hours south-east of Mexico City, Cisneros says: “Farmers must have the liberty to plant what they want, and not only when the government or corporations say they can,” he adds. “Since the revolution, no one has helped us: now is the moment for us to help ourselves.”

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has indicated his support for legalisation as part of a wider push to dismantle prohibitionist policies but has been criticised for dragging his feet. Bills have been passed in both legislative chambers over the past two years but they have not agreed on the same version.

A legal market for cannabis in Mexico is estimated to be worth more than US$3bn a year.

Campaigners allege that opposition from the armed forces could be holding up legislative success. In November, hacked documents from the defence ministry revealed links between elected officials and drug cartels, and influence of the military over civilian institutions. Activists also point to the removal of equity clauses in the drafts as evidence of corporate influence that, in the US, has contributed to high taxes and bureaucracy that effectively exclude small farmers.

Despite senior government figures indicating regulation is a top priority the domestic industry is developing apace in a mostly tolerated grey market free from an influx of foreign capital that could arrive if legalisation is passed without safeguards.

Demonstrators in Mexico City calling for the legalisation of cannabis, which many producers see as an engine for economic growth.


Communities in Michoacán, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, among others, have said they want a share of the pie – with many landless farmers known as campesinos still earning near subsistence wages growing rice, corn and sugar.

“Communities are coming out of clandestine markets to say ‘This is part of our economic development; it’s a way to provide a better future for our children,’” says Zara Snapp, the co-founder of drug policy reform thinktank Instituto RIA, who spoke at Toquefest.

“There are many more farmers who would like to switch crops to cannabis, though they are not yet ready to take that risk. But there’s still a legal vacuum, and folks are participating.”

More than 10 million people in Mexico are estimated to have used cannabis. A legal market could be worth more than US$3bn (£2.5bn) a year, and at least 101,000 hectares (250,000 acres) – primarily in the northern states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Sonora – are already used for illegal production.

Reports suggest there are now 800 cannabis producers across the state of Oaxaca alone.


Earlier this year after protests in Oaxaca, the state’s authorities decreed that people can smoke cannabis in public.

Federal authorities also granted twenty-six Indigenous communities the right to cultivate cannabis on a small scale for medical use, which was legalised in 2017.

There are now reportedly about 800 producers across the state, though many were already growing cannabis and most, if not all, will be providing cannabis for recreational and medical use.

“Cannabis is an engine for economic growth,” says agronomist Daniel Ramírez López, who works with Oaxacan cannabis advocacy group Cooagro. “Indigenous people call cannabis pipiltzintzintli, giving it a sacred connection. Despite the serious bureaucratic obstacles due to a lack of initiative from the federal government, producers are organising so that they can carry out a legal economic activity that triggers development for all.”

Cannabis was introduced to Mexico – to be grown as hemp – more than 500 years ago by the Spanish conquistadores. It has been widely used, including by Indigenous people, in tinctures to aid sleep and relieve pain. The anthem of the Mexican revolution, La Cucaracha (the cockroach), charts the path of a peasant army smoking cannabis as they march.

But during the US-led “war on drugs”, the army bombarded communities with deadly chemicals to destroy crops. As recently as December 2020, in Oaxaca, about 3,000 sq metres of cannabis crops were set alight by the army.

“Before, we used to run to the hill because we were afraid of the military,” farmer Juan Cruz López told El Proceso. “They entered houses without a search warrant, detained whoever they found and took what little one had … that no longer happens.”

Campesinos under cartel control face little hope of change, but Cisneros and his comrades hope full legalisation is on its way. “We are realising that it is possible to radically change the way of thinking about this plant,” he tells the crowd in Puebla. “We are in this fight and we hope we are going to win. It grew to cure us.”

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×