With cannabis plants in hand, a group of ambitious sugar cane farmers from Tetecala, Mexico, joined pro-legalisation activists at the Health Ministry office in the state capital of Cuernavaca, Morelos, to present officials with their petition requesting a license to cultivate marijuana.
Their mission? To make Tetecala the first marijuana town in Mexico.
The town has produced sugar cane for decades, but the crop value has crashed in recent years. Farmers now believe their green fingers could be better utilised to grow an altogether different plant – one which would be far more profitable and beneficial.
Fellow farmer and spokesman for the farmers’ association, Alejandro Vello Arellano, told local media, “We are looking for the planting license because it is what we know how to do…..there shouldn’t be any middlemen. We submitted the license application to plant marijuana legally. What we are looking for is to change the direction of our town, to attract trade but also to attract tourism [and] benefit more than 20,000 inhabitants”. But the group soon learned they’d brought their case to the wrong officials and were informed that granting the license is the job of federal authorities.
Situated in the Mexican municipality of Morelos, Tetecalos is known for its fertile land and lush vegetation, including abundant fruit trees. With a population of just over 6,000 people, the town has long relied on sugar cane as a means of income. But speaking in front of the Health Ministry building, Señor Vella Arellano explained that the crop has a value of 1,300 pesos during harvest season and is no longer profitable.
The farmers believe securing a license to cultivate marijuana is the way to change Tetecala’s ailing fortunes, commenting, “By soliciting the license for the cultivation of marijuana, we are looking to change the trajectory of our town, which for more than 30 years has been affected by poor management, corruption, and violence. We want to be the first cannabis town in all of Mexico.”
Cannabis Law in Mexico
Medicinal cannabis use has been legal since 2017, and the Mexican Supreme Court declared cannabis prohibition as unconstitutional back in 2018. As recently as June 2021, the court handed activists another victory when they repealed laws that made recreational use a criminal offence. Commercial production for recreational use remains illegal in Mexico. Still, the Supreme Court’s June ruling means personal use and cultivation is allowed if permission is granted by the Federal Commission for Health Risks.
For Tetecala’s farmers to meet their objective, they need to acquire four licenses – for planting, sales, export, and transportation. They face an uphill battle as the regulations around the production of medical marijuana currently prohibit small-scale farmers from cultivating the plant. Pro-weed advocates in the area are hopeful that lawmakers will change commercial production status when the next legislative session begins in September. Señor Vella Arellano declared, “Marijuana is being legalised in many parts of the world, and in localities in the United States, which is the main producer. We either adapt to international rules, or we fall behind.”
How Producing Cannabis Would Benefit the Area
The farmers believe that a license to grow marijuana would benefit their ailing livelihoods and the town’s economy due to the demand for recreational and medical marijuana. They could also take advantage of hemp to supply clothes and fabrics.
The farmers of Morelos believe it is high time Mexico claimed a place at the table in the flourishing global cannabis industry after decades of the crop’s production being controlled by cartels.
The petition, submitted to local authorities by the Civil Association of the United Towns of the Southern State of Morelos, assures that granting the farmers permission to cultivate cannabis would benefit thousands of local citizens, including farming families from neighbouring towns.