While marijuana media is taking off in the U.S. with dozens of publications such as DOPE Magazine, High Times, Marijuana Business Daily, and LadyBud. That’s not the case for Mexico. The country only has one cannabis culture magazine, Cañamo, and it’s in trouble-deep trouble.
Last summer, Mexico’s Commission for the Qualification of Illustrated Publications and Magazines, a branch of the Ministry of the Interior, denied Cañamo’s domestic circulation certification, stating that the magazine promotes “acts against morality and good manners” and “apologizes for the consumption of prohibited goods.”
What does this mean?
All publications in Mexico need the Commission’s certification in order to be sold in kiosks or sent through the mail. So, if the decision stands, then anyone who sells, publishes or circulates Cañamo in Mexico could face as much as 15 days in jail and could owe thousands in fines. That’s right. We’re talking censorship.
And it’s a rather odd decision considering the fact that Mexico just legalized medical marijuana last June. Still, according to the Commission’s secretary, Joel Ruiz, it’s not the topic but how it’s presented that puts Cañamo in the crosshairs. Ruiz told the Columbia Journalism Review, if the magazine focused more on medical marijuana and its science instead of marijuana culture, it would be better received.
There’s just one problem with changing the magazine, Cañamo has been around for decades. The magazine first got its start in Spain around 20 years ago, releasing a Chilean edition a decade later. Since that time it has become the cannabis magazine for the Spanish-speaking world and, in 2015, it finally spread to Mexico. The magazine reports on cannabis culture from the perspective of the consumer, specializing in cannabis culture and politics as well as medical marijuana information.
As for Mexico’s citizens, they have no problem with Cañamo México. It’s been a great success. It has grown to a circulation of 5,000 print copies and has a strong social media following with over 100,000 people on Facebook.
Still, the censorship from Mexican authorities is disturbing. Out of the 250 publications prohibited by the commission since 1989, Cañamo stands out. Most of the previously targeted magazines were pornographic or weapons-based, Cañamo falls into an entirely separate category. Worse yet, the magazine has avoided talking about sensational topics such as “narco-traffickers” or showing violent images in order to stay out of the government crosshairs, but it hasn’t worked.
There is good news. Cañamo’s attorneys are appealing the Commission’s decision to Mexico’s Tribunal Colegiado. They’ll go to trial sometime in the next 12 to 18 months and, in the meantime, they’ll keep printing.