Despite frustrating legislative delays, farmers in Mexico are eager to grow a crop that may be more profitable than rice, corn or sugar. Cannabis it is.
The war on marijuana is drawing to a close after a number of Supreme Court rulings declared the right to grow cannabis and found the ban on recreational use unconstitutional. Cannabis growers are increasingly confident about the IPO and some farmers are switching: a gram of marijuana can sell for more than several kilograms of black beans.
Thanks to this revolution, farmers will soon be able to grow cannabis. That yields much more and is good for economic development. The plant has been criminalized for years for no reason. Cisneros - a farmer who started growing cannabis in 2022 - is part of the campaign group Plan Tetecala, which has received support from the state's human rights commission.
The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has expressed his support for legalization as part of a wider push to lift the prohibition policy. Bills have been passed in both legislative chambers over the past two years, but they have not agreed on the same version.
In November, hacked Defense Department documents revealed ties between elected officials and drug cartels and the military's influence over civilian institutions. Regulation is a top priority. The domestic industry is developing rapidly in a largely tolerated gray market. This market is now free of foreign capital. That may change if the legalization is passed.
Protesters in Mexico City are calling for the legalization of cannabis, which many producers see as a driver of economic growth. “This is part of our economic development; it is a way to give our children a better future,” said Zara Snapp, co-founder of the drug policy reform think tank Instituto RIA.
“There are many more farmers who would like to switch to cannabis, but do not want to take that risk yet. It is estimated that more than 10 million people in Mexico have used cannabis. A legal market could be worth more than $3bn (£2,5bn) a year. At least 101.000 hectares (250.000 acres) – mostly in the northern states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Sonora – are already being used for illegal production.
Last year, after protests in Oaxaca, state authorities decided to allow people to smoke cannabis in public. Federal authorities also granted twenty-six indigenous communities the right to grow cannabis on a small scale for medical use, which was legalized in 2017.
There are now reportedly about 800 producers in the state who are likely to supply cannabis for recreational use as well. Cannabis was introduced to Mexico over 500 years ago by the Spanish conquistadors to be grown as hemp. It is widely used, including by indigenous peoples, in tinctures to promote sleep and relieve pain.
During the war on drugs, led by the US, deadly chemicals were used by the military to destroy crops. As recently as December 2020, about 3.000 square meters of cannabis crops in Oaxaca were set on fire by the military. That finally seems to be changing.
Source: theguardian.com (EN)