Mexican farmers are giving up on marijuana!

Many switch to vegetables, but some opt for heroin poppies

DISCLAIMER: This is no way intended to advocate for the manufacture, importation, distribution or use of marijuana for recreational use. The content here is designed to be used in the context of a scenario planning exercise to generate innovative and creative dialogue.

Lucas, 37, is typical of pot’s shift to the mainstream. He started growing weed at 16 with seeds ordered from Canada. He opened shops selling nutrients, always taking care to speak in code with customers. At the time, only a few states allowed medical marijuana. “If you even hinted at the word ‘cannabis’ or ‘weed,’ I had to kick you out,” Lucas says. “I wasn’t going to go to jail for you.” He spent a few years in Shenzhen, China, developing contacts with manufacturers of the high-intensity-discharge lamps used by marijuana growers. Now, one of his Colorado clients has 6,000 lights, each retailing for $600. “I never thought I’d see that,” Lucas says. “This has been my entire adult career.” (

Mexico has been wracked for years by the fallout of a bloody drug war, stoked by prohibitionist sentiment in the U.S. It began one Sunday in 1969, when President Richard Nixon ordered a surprise inspection of every vehicle crossing into the U.S. Now the border, made manifest by 650 miles of fencing, teems with Predator drones, ground sensors, and surveillance cameras. Turf battles made Ciudad Juárez one of the most violent cities in the world earlier in this decade, with 1,900 murders in 2011. (

Mexico decriminalized possession of 5 grams or less of marijuana in 2009. A bill introduced last year would allow pot dispensaries like those in many U.S. states. “Why should we be killing each other over marijuana?” asks Mexico City lawmaker Vidal Llerenas, a backer of legalization. “We have a war here to prevent it from going to a country where it’s already legal.”
While the bill has languished so far, momentum will grow if California approves recreational pot sales in a measure likely to appear on ballots in November 2016. “If California legalizes, you can’t politically sustain prohibition in Mexico,” says Jorge Javier Romero, president of a drug policy organization in Mexico City known as CUPIHD. Some 64 percent of Mexicans support allowing marijuana for medicinal use, according to an August 2013 survey by pollster Parametria — an eye-opener for a country that’s also one of the world’s most Catholic. (

Some aren’t waiting for the state’s blessing. Carlos Zamudio, 37, helped open La Semilla Growshop in Mexico City in February, selling lamps and nutrients, often imported from the U.S. or Canada. One model on his floor, the XXXtreme 6 grow light, is made by Hydrofarm, a hydroponics supplier in Petaluma, Calif., near the state’s famed Emerald Triangle of pot farms. Zamudio says his grow shop is one of at least four in Mexico City. “The market is opening,” he says. (

Pepe Pallán is trying to build a network of patients and doctors, even though medical marijuana isn’t officially allowed yet. A fan of the U.S. television series Weeds, about a drug-dealing single mom, Pallán, 38, hopes to go to California to attend Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, which calls itself the first “marijuana college.” Pallán tries to connect clients in Mexico City with doctors who agree to supervise treatment. He gets the pot from a grower who uses organic methods and avoids the cartels. “I’m not going into business with those guys,” he says. (

Those guys are not going out of business, unfortunately. Mexico’s drug lords may have lost some profits because of U.S. legalization, but they’ve made adjustments. They’ve likely replaced volume lost from their pot trade with higher sales of heroin and methamphetamines, says Adam Isacson, a senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America, a policy group. Some of the farmers abandoning weed are turning to cultivating poppies for heroin, helping fuel a near tripling in U.S. overdose deaths from the drug since 2010. Half of the heroin in the U.S. now comes from Mexico, up from 14 percent in 2009, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. (

The drug war isn’t over. Yet there has been an historic change at the border. The fight can now focus on heroin and other deadly substances. The toll of the war on marijuana has been huge in terms of security and lives. Decades of prohibition never slowed the flow of pot from Mexico; legalization did. The choice is now who controls that flow: an unnamed dealer in Juárez or a legalized cross-border industry. (

Imagine if this trend continues and we stabilize marijuana trafficking over our borders? Then what if the THC content is all clearly marked and labled so that legal marijuana could be regulated similarly to alcohol. The benefits mentioned above are part of Reeferrals intended outcome with an App which will help create self-regulation and THC education in the legal marijuana industry.

What do you think?


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