“I’ve been crossing weed [into Tijuana] since before it went [fully] legal,” says Jorge Fierro, a 23-year-old Mexican-American who resides in Tijuana. “Marijuana in Mexico is sh*tty and you don’t know what quality or how much you are getting. I prefer to get it in a dispensary. I’ve crossed with broncas (trouble) a lot and never been stopped, until recently.”
With long hair, barely there scruffy facial hair, perpetually red-eyes, and baggy clothes, Jorge looks like your typical California skater and consumer of cannabis.
“I work as a wallpaper installer for the Marriott Company,” continues Jorge. “They send me to different states and cities all over the US. I work hard for three months, then I rest for three months. You know, hang out in Tijuana, smoking, and skating.”
Jorge, like many Tijuana locals, opt to go to dispensaries in San Diego instead of buying marijuana in the streets of Zona Norte where there is a shootout almost every night and many dealers sell a variety of narcotics. An article by Frontera says Baja California is the third state that consumes the most marijuana in Mexico. The doctor quoted in the article, Dr. Octavio Villalobos, warns about the addictions of marijuana and defines it as a gateway drug.
“For years they never stopped me, even when they had dogs I wouldn’t get sniffed,” continues Jorge. “But a few weeks ago, a wacho (soldier) stopped me. This was past INM and SAT (Mexican immigration and tax agencies).”
“El wacho asked if I had broncas with me. I took out my phone and keys out of my pockets and left broncas inside. I had two eights in this pocket,” Jorge pointed at his pants’ right pocket. “And I had two vape cartridges, some wax and rolling papers here.” Jorge pointed at his jacket pockets.
“El wacho searched my pockets and said, this is legal in your country, but it’s not legal here. He proceeded to take all, then grabbed some rolling papers, snickered to himself and said ‘I’m going to need this later.’ He put my papers back in my pocket and gestured for me to go.”
A sign near the border warning people that medical marijuana is prohibited into Mexico was posted four years ago.
“I’m not in sales, but off the top of my head, I say 25 to 35 of our patients are Mexican nationals,” said an employee of Southwest Patient Group, the dispensary closest to the Mexican border in San Ysidro. “I rather not discuss that [marijuana crossing the border] but from the stories I heard, they are similar to the one you tell me [Jorge’s story]. People get their product confiscated.”
My visit to Southwest Patient Group was a pleasant one and definitely beats visiting Zona Norte. Friends recommended to not cross marijuana flower and instead carry edibles or vaporizer cartridges. I got a Kushy Punch super potent gummy and one gram cartridge of cherry sour diesel, put them in my pocket and crossed the border to Tijuana. It was uneventful.
Mexico has been taking steps towards legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing its status. San Diego based Medical Marijuana Inc. has been doing business with HempMeds Mexico since 2016. However, marijuana is still demonized by most newspapers.
“Two men arrested with 143 kilos of drugs,” or “Marijuana hidden inside marker pens,” are similar headlines that appear almost daily in Tijuana newspapers alongside the murder count (354+ since the beginning of 2018).