Mexico City’s First Weed Club to Use Courts to Spur Change

As Mexican politicians deliberate over the future of legal marijuana, the country’s first public cannabis club is working towards a Plan B that would prioritize citizen collectives as the drug´s primary providers.

“They’re legislating about us, without us,” said Karina Malpica, the vice president and co-founder of the Xochipilli Cannabis Club, in a recent interview with HIGH TIMES. The collective, formed late last year, has enlisted 2,000 members who believe that informed citizen groups should have the responsibility of producing the plant for user-members.

Xochipilli´s strategy builds on last fall´s Supreme Court decision that found in favor of four activists from the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Consumption (SMART). The court found that laws against marijuana violate the country´s constitutional right to develop one’s own personality—but the ruling was limited in scope to the four appellants.

Xochipilli is giving a real, practical, immediate solution to marijuana users,” said the collective’s president, law student Jaciel Espinosa. His classmate Paul Lavalleja came up with the legal strategy as the logical, democratic next step for a country where few can afford costly legal fees on their own.

(Left to Right: Alberto Vargas, founding member of Xochipilli; Karina Malpica, vice president of Xochipilli; Jaciel Espinosa, president of Xochipilli; and Rafael Prado Bautista, founding member of Xochipilli.)

As the students worked through legal documents, therapist Karina Malpica was separately becoming convinced that spaces like the cannabis clubs she’d spent time in during a stay in Barcelona would work for Mexico.

Malpica writes for La Dosis, a pro-legalization magazine, and is an active proponent of the emotional benefits of marijuana and hallucinogenic drug use. She put out a mass email to her contacts in the legalization movement, looking for others who were interested in forming a club.

La Dosis and Cañamo, another pro-cannabis magazine, both printed an ad announcing the group’s first meeting, which took place in Mexico City’s historic Casa de Azulejos. Around 20 attended, among them neurobiology students and representatives from key marijuana advocacy groups and other civil organizations.

The law students presented their plan, and it was largely adopted by the new club.

Members chose the name Xochipilli after the Aztec god of beauty and art, who is often depicted in statues with his face turned to the sky in the throes of drug-induced enlightenment.

The Mexican Senate is considering several proposals for the legalization of weed. Earlier in the year, a series of public forums on the possibilities of cannabis legalization took place throughout the country.

A special session was convened to discuss President Enrique Peña Nieto’s relatively conservative proposal that stipulated little in the way of cultivation rights for citizens. Activists withdrew their support for the plan, and it didn’t pass. However, the debate gave hope to some marijuana activists that legislative change could be forthcoming.

Xochipilli leaders say that no responsible plan of legalization would put the control of production into the hands of private companies or the corrupt politicians that many feel are the real beneficiaries of Mexico’s drug war. Living in a center of drug production, rather than consumption, many weed consumers are anxious for marijuana sources that sidestep the corruption that fuels the violent illegal drug trade entirely.

For the moment, Xochipilli Cannabis Club is planning a second round of recruitment. The club’s leaders are investigating central locations for a brick-and-mortar headquarters, as well as planning the country’s first marijuana festival and a presentation on pot and women’s health at next month’s Expo Weed.

Marijuana activists, like Mexico City grow shop owner and writer Jorge Hernández Tinajero, say that the work Xochipilli is doing is the responsible and ethical course of action.

“It’s going to open up a different space in the market, and thus in the illegal drug trade,” Hernández Tinajero told HIGH TIMES. “In the long run, it’s going to demonstrate that the best way of guaranteeing the rights of everyone: users and non-users.”

The denial of cannabis profits to big companies in favor of citizen control would be huge, a shift in the way business is done in monopoly-run Mexico, certainly. Cannabis Club Xochipilli is aware of the seriousness of what they’re asking.

“A lot of people are saying,” Espinosa said. “That cannabis is the new industrial revolution.”

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