Sarah DeVries
Supporters of legalization plant marijuana in front of the Senate in Mexico City. Supporters of legalization plant marijuana at a park in front of the Senate in Mexico City.

Time to chill and smoke a joint—which may be fully legal soon

Perhaps Santa and the Three Kings will get a joint set out for them along with the cookies this Christmas

Could we all pause and take a moment in this disaster of a year to just chill and smoke a joint together?

According to Ricardo Monreal, Morena party leader in the Senate, the answer is — most likely yes, and probably very soon.

I for one think that this couldn’t come at a better time. We can’t go out and live it up. Our politics are a mess, as is the economy. We’re missing birthdays, weddings, funerals, baptisms, live music, dance festivals, book fairs.

One of the things I most miss is my bougie habit of hauling my laptop to a café for breakfast with a friend and then staying a few hours to work while my daughter’s at school. If this year has taught us anything, it’s this: it really is the little things, those small moments of pleasure and connection that make life worth it.

So while we can’t find social release in the form of big group events, we can at least relax and find a different kind of release for the time being. Actually, you all can.

Personally, I hate the way pot makes me feel and have given up on trying to find any kind of enjoyment from it, but I’ll sure sit and have a beer with you — from a safe distance, outside of course — while you enjoy it. And let’s be honest: living in Xalapa, that’s already long been an established habit for me.

Anyway, back to the news: while the Supreme Court already determined last year that forbidding marijuana use was unconstitutional, its legalized use has yet to be written into law, and there are still quite a few specifics to hammer out.

They’d initially set this past April as the deadline for legalizing recreational use, but the coronavirus upended those (and many other) plans. Their new deadline is mid-December, which is fast approaching. Will Santa and the Three Kings get a nice joint set out for them along with the cookies? Most likely, yes. Legalization of recreational use is, at least so far, expected to pass easily.

So what do you think awaits us?

  1. spacey potheads roaming the streets, but at least they’re too high to hurt anyone
  2. a booming pot economy and related innovation that will take Mexico to a much needed next level
  3. the same kind of crony and corrupt capitalism there’s always been, only this time with marijuana!
  4. all of the above

While it’s hard to be too optimistic about this truly becoming a game changer, I do find myself hopeful that it will force the U.S. to calm down its hysteria regarding “the drug war,” allowing Mexico to assert some of its autonomy in a way that it hasn’t done lately.

The law will also hopefully permit small businesses to open without having to hop through expensive regulatory hoops designed to allow only giants to play — I pray there are no Pot Walmarts in our future.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against regulation. But surely we can have the pot version of artisanal beer and mezcal, right?

I also wonder about what will happen with the drug cartels. I think experience has shown us that they simply move along to other lucrative illegal activities when one dries up as they have many times before. But I have a hard time believing that it will be easy for a small-time farmer to tell them “so look guys, I’ve decided to not sell to you anymore, I’m going legal.”

New businesses large and small will probably have some sticky situations to get out of because of our lack of a true rule of law in general, and I don’t imagine the transition to mainstream will be as straightforward and easy as some believe.

Throw in “opposition from some industries” regarding hemp products, and you can see my skepticism when it comes to fair play. (On a related note, have y’all noticed that the people who espouse the magic of the free market tend to be the same ones to cry foul if they think someone’s actually competing with them with a better product in hand because it will be “detrimental” to their business? “You can’t let others compete with us — we’d lose money! Not fair!”)

But one thing’s for certain: we’re bound to see a bunch of half-smiling, squinty-eyed Mexicans and paisanos alike wandering about. That makes for a pretty good community in my book. These are tough times. Let’s let people sit back and relax a bit without them risking jail time.

In the meantime, I’m going to perfect my already near-perfect brownie recipe. In times like these, you never know when a business opportunity might pop up!

Sarah DeVries writes from her home in Xalapa, Veracruz.

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