The traditional flow of illicit cannabis was from Mexico to America. However, as so-called Cali Weed gains popularity among high-end cannabis connoisseurs around the world, we’re now seeing American-grown cannabis being trafficked into Mexico.
Just as the UK is experiencing high demand for well-known legal cannabis brands, the same is true in Mexico where the drug is still illegal to buy or sell.
Cali weed around the world
Cali weed, which can go for as much as £700 per ounce (28g), has been growing in popularity in the UK for a number of years.
The reason for this massive markup – an ounce would cost about £100-150 in a legal dispensary – is the fact that California has had a legal market for recreational cannabis since late 2016.
This has seen the cultivation of cannabis professionalised and optimised, resulting in some of the strongest, smelliest weed the world has ever known.
Demand for this weed has also been magnified by its promotion in modern culture, particularly rap music, where brands such as Cookies are commonly referenced in songs.
The demand for this highest of high-grade has even spread to America’s southern neighbours Mexico, where a boutique market of imported cannabis is booming in major cities. As the price of Cali Weed effectively doubles as it leaves California and enters Mexico, the buyers in this market tend to be affluent.
Weed in Mexico
Mexico and cannabis go back a long way. In fact, the cannabis joint originates in Mexico – the first mention of a joint coming in 1850 from a pharmacist at the University of Guadalajara in western Mexico. It’s known that joints were commonly smoked by labourers who worked the fields who would add weed to their tobacco cigarettes.
The term ‘roach’ even originated in Mexico. It was inspired by the popular Mexican folk song La Cucaracha (“The Cockroach”), which is about a cockroach who struggles to walk because he doesn’t have any “marijuana” to smoke.
By the 1920s, helped by the rise of jazz music and speakeasies, Mexican cannabis made its way into the American zeitgeist. It wasn’t long, however, until years of racially-charged media propaganda came to a head in the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 essentially outlawed the possession and sale of the plant.
Over the proceeding century, the US government spent billions of dollars trying to prevent cannabis from crossing the southern border and into America as part of its “war on drugs”, which is still raging to this day.
Still, the popularity of Mexican weed continued to grow and strains such as Acapulco Gold, Michoacán Cream and Jarilla Sinaloa all became highly sought after, with some earning legendary status among the counterculture movement which blossomed in the 60s. .
While the trafficking techniques of Mexican smugglers included tunnels, speedboats and even slingshot, these days they are having little trouble loading their vehicles up with weed in California and simply driving back across the border.
Legalisation in Mexico
Proponents in Mexico have for years argued at the economic benefits legal cannabis would have in Mexico, especially considering its history cultivation of the plant.
Things seemed to be on the right track as the country’s supreme court decriminalised personal use and approved a law for the cultivation and sale of the plant back in March, but the bill still hasn’t passed the Senate after numerous delays.
If the bill passes final approval by the senate, the cannabis legalisation bill will allow for possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis, home cultivation of up to eight plants for personal use, purchase by adults over 18 of cannabis at authorised retail businesses, and cannabis recreational consumption clubs.