S1: From KPBS and PRCS. This is port of entry , where.
S2: We tell cross-border stories that connect us. I'm not the one silenced.
S1: And I'm lonely and that. So it's no secret that people have been smoking weed way long before it was legalized here in California in 2016.
S2: And even though weed has been going back and forth across the US-Mexico border for years , well , cannabis is still not legal in Mexico. And people in Mexico and along the border have a really negative perception about marijuana. Sometimes trying to change those ideas can make you end up in jail.
S3: I did a public manifestation and like a revolution , which is the main street of downtown , like one. And I. I sit there with two plans of cannabis in a jar full of cannabis because I knew I have the rights and I had the bottle and I had the permit and I had everything. They just got to me and told me , You know what ? You're under arrest. And I'll say , Do I have I have my permit. I have I have everything in order. And the supervisor basically told me nobody has told me that this is legal now. My name is Carlos Guerrero. I'm a farmer and a politician and an activist for cannabis for the past two and a half years.
S2: So you just heard Juan Carlos Guerrero. He is a truancy one in say , who , like many of us , sees the border region for what it really is , a big land of untapped potential.
S1: He's got many ideas and proposals to make Tijuana a much better place to live.
S3: My dad is American. My mom is Mexican. And that dynamic for me has been has been weird because I always have the right to to cross the border. Even now with the pandemic. And it's it's really hard to see that there's a lot of broken dreams of people that just get thrown here in Tijuana because they're not they're not American. I feel like a huge responsibility of making the world a little bit better because I was born in one place. I have my opportunities are huge.
S1: Juan Carlos is a politician , and one of the issues he's campaigned on is the legalization of cannabis in Baja , California.
S2: The journey of Juan Carlos in politics and cannabis has been a ride of ups and downs. And it all started when he was a 16 year old high school student at one of the oldest and largest schools in Tijuana , which is called Lazaro Cardenas. And actually , my dad and a bunch of my friends studied there , too.
S1: Lazaro Cardenas alumni. Yeah.
S1: And while Juan Carlos was getting an education , he also got involved with protests along with other friends and students because the quality of the cafeteria food was really bad.
S3: I was 16. And yeah , we we paralyzed the school until we got right. Conditions to buy in the cafeteria and the food was not wrong or made us ill. And that made that gave me an amputation of the only two parties that there were in Barca , which was try and pay and else. And that's that's how I started in politics.
S1: After this event at such a young age. Juan Carlos joined one of the strongest and most influential political parties in Mexico.
S2: But here's one thing about the world of politics , especially Mexico. Nepotism is all over the place , and sometimes it's very , very difficult to make it or achieve a higher rank through merits , especially in a political party so old and so conservative like the one he was part of back then.
S3: And some someone pick up the phone and call the national president of the party and told him , I want my grandson to be the candidate. And then that happened. He was going to it that I wasn't. And I got really disappointed.
S1: That that.
S3: That that got to me. And I just decided to quit my political career by then.
S1: And yet so along with being a young politician , Juan Carlos has also been a farmer in Tijuana since he was 15 years old , way before he became a politician. He actually has greenhouses where he grows fruits and veggies like strawberries , lettuce , basil. So after these events , he decided to stop his political career and go back to farming.
S2: He had a friend up in Trinity County in Northern California who was working as a trimmer of cannabis plants. That friend invited him to move up there and start working as a farmer and grower. So in 2015 , he basically said , See you later and move to Trinity County.
S1: And while he was up there , he started to learn a lot about growing cannabis. Eventually , he brought all that knowledge back to Tijuana. This is a new season of Port of entry.
S2: And this time we have stories about crossing the border to change minds , changing minds through drugs.
S1: You heard that right. Drugs on both sides of the border. Illegal drugs. Illegal drugs , therapeutic drugs. Drugs that shouldn't really be called drugs because they're more like plants. Yeah.
S2: Yeah. And also changing minds through the performing arts , the magic that theater has to change perspectives.
S1: And in this first episode , we're introducing you to some people who are working really hard to change the legal status of cannabis in Tijuana and are working also to change the way people think about weed in border communities.
S2: We are super happy to be back and thank you so much for joining us for this new season. E Islam was the. So Juan Carlos worked up north in California growing weed for like three or four years.
S3: I saw the industry. I saw the possibilities. I saw the benefits for the people in Weaverville , which was the city I was living in. And being a farmer , I could see how we could make this happen.
S1: He spent a good amount of time trimming and growing in Trinity County and learning a lot about cannabis cultivation and the whole industry. However , he was away for long periods of time from his family and friends.
S3: My daughter is here and one of my friends , my everything , my family , everything is here in the garden. And yeah , that's basically what one day I was there and the next day I just said goodbye. And I grabbed my stuff and came back. Entonces.
S2: Entonces. When Juan Carlos came back to Tijuana in 2018 , he realized the cannabis industry was just starting to emerge here , and he saw this as an opportunity to start doing something that he knew.
S3: That's when I opened my eyes that I already know about plants. I already know I have greenhouses. I wanted to professionalize myself as a farmer in cannabis cultivation. And yeah I came back to the one annoying a lot knowing that I that I had a lot more to learn than what I have already learned. But knowing that I knew enough that I could make something happen.
S1: So he reached out to a couple of friends with a law firm in search of obtaining something called an Amparo , which translates roughly into protection in English.
S2: So here's the thing. Let me explain this to you. While growing , selling , consuming cannabis is still technically illegal in Mexico. A Supreme Court ruling a few years ago fully decriminalized it. And then in 2021 , the federal Senate passed a general law to legalize cannabis. But since then , nothing has happened to actually put that law into practice. It is stalled , essentially held up , and many believe because of opposition from national political figures.
S1: So this Amparo that Juan Carlos got is basically a protection granted by that Supreme Court ruling against any action that lesser authorities may take. Now he has the legal right to grow and consume marijuana for his own personal use. The Amparo means he can have weed and cannot be prosecuted.
S3: So after a long process of two years and a half , two years , a federal judge told the federal government that they have to let me allow me to do what what I wanted , which was develop my personality through cannabis. I actually have it with me. I brought it to show it to you. The result of which is.
S1: Wow , what are you looking at ? I'm looking at a legal document with a lot of numbers and word , and it kind of looks like hieroglyphics to me. Cultivar Of course , the chartered air transport transported la la la la la. Semiotic cannabis , sativa , indica , emery common.
S2: And guess what ? Juan Carlos was the first person in Baja , California to get this Amparo. In fact , when the authorities issued it , everyone came out from the back office to check it out. And there was a lot of excitement , like , whoa , this is new. This is so cool.
S3: And I said , You know what ? Now I have the document. I have an official thing. I have to do something with this. And my first the first idea that came to my head was show some plants publicly. And that's that's how it happened. And I just sit in the middle of regulation with the plants with a jar full of actual flower and just let people know about.
S2: And yet this is the part where Juan Carlos gets arrested and well , he ended up in the statue.
S1: And of course , he was not supposed to get arrested because he has this Amparo , this legal permit we just talked about , that allows him to be in possession of cannabis. So his arrest was pretty much illegal.
S2: Pretty much. But anyway , he was put inside a cell with like 15 drug addicts.
S3: And it was it was people that have a serious problem with addiction , which I do believe they don't belong in jail. They belong in a rehabilitation facility or something like that.
S2: But don't worry about him too much , because eventually he was moved to another cell with different people. Yep.
S1: With murderers and robbers.
S2: Oh , that sounds way more chill.
S1: So you're safe.
S2: I'm so happy for him.
S3: I get to the New Deal. I lay on the floor. I try to sleep. And one , two , 3 hours. Half an hour. I don't know. After that , the guy that was next to me , another guy starts gelling and him , like , trying to go at him.
S2: And so after spending ten long and set years in prison.
S1: Then you'd say.
S2: Just kidding. Now don't worry about Juan Carlos. He got out after , like 30 hours.
S1: Because like we said before , he was not doing anything illegal or wrong. Yes.
S3: Most people didn't actually knew that there was a legal way to get cannabis and all that. But that's that's part of the activism or the activist work , like show people the way to to be able to do it yourself.
S1: So Juan Carlos knew a lot about the cannabis industry and he was trying to educate people while breaking the stigma of weed. And all of these things combined pushed him back into politics. But this time he joined a different and more liberal political party called Movimiento Ciudadano.
S2: The Citizen Movement. And in 2021 , he ran as a candidate for state Congress.
S3: So they called me back in November , December , and they told me , you know what , we're looking for citizens. They're politically active. They're doing activism for social causes. And you seem like the right fit for cannabis , you know , and and do you want the candidacy ? So I said yes without actually believing that that was going to happen.
S2: When it comes to making big decisions , there is often a special someone to help us make the big jump.
S3: My daughter told me she sees a very wise little one. She's almost 12 , and she told me like that , if you're there , you're going to be able to do more , right ? I love politics. Everything is politics. But we are doing politics right now. It's the it's the only profession or social activity that actually affects everyone around. And what is that about politics right now and why everyone rejects politicians is the fact that the people that has the will and the capacity of making good for everyone , that has the ideas and the talent , they get tired pretty quickly of dealing with parasites.
S2: So listen one lot the movies and then Mondo la politica circling around. There is an element of glory , but a callous , dishonest confession.
S1: And for sure you have to have integrity and be true to your word to get people to trust you. That's why so many people don't trust politicians because they don't. So during his campaign , Juan Carlos had a very good point to prove.
S3: About I have a commitment. I'm not going to smoke again until it's legal , even though I have a right , if I have a right that you don't have , what I have is a privilege. So I right now I have the privilege of smoking legally and to grow plants legally. I'm pretty sure that everyone that has a privilege , they have to just use that privilege to fight for for the underprivileged. I'm already a politician. I have it in my blood so that there's no activity that I'm going to do that. I'm not going to just take away that part of me.
S2: Sometimes our perception of people involved in politics is not the prettiest one. Or to put it in different words , it can be very hard to trust politicians. When you live in a country with a lot of corruption and impunity.
S1: Juan Carlos is completely aware of this. However , he also believes that being part of this influential world is super important. In order to make a real change in society and have an impact.
S3: You have to go to to the to the public officer. You have to go to the congressmen. You have to go to the city counselor. You have to go to the mayor or the governor or the president. So knowing that all the ideas that have to benefit society to to do a collective good , it's through public office. So that's why I was candidate this time and I'm going to keep pursuing all this.
S1: So back in the spring of 2021 , our former producer , Kinsey Moreland , and I joined Juan Carlos at a campaign event on Tijuana's East Side.
S4: How are you ? Oh , good. Hey , I like. That.
S1: That. That's when we win. Good to see you. I'm going to include your point. This is , mind you , these.
S3: Are the first legal events in Tijuana and Tijuana. Yeah.
S1: Oh , yeah. Well , pioneers. Yeah.
S3: This is real. This is.
S1: Real serious. He's been campaigning. But I think this is his last his last public public campaign event before the election , which is like a week or two. Um , and it's kind of a publicity stunt of sorts , right ? He's having , he's gonna have a few cannabis plants out in public , which is not legal in Tijuana , but he has a special permit. So that's why he's protected. And he's doing it to kind of bring attention to the fact that weed is becoming legal and it would be very beneficial for Tijuana , for Mexico to legalize cannabis. So we're here. I see the plants actually out of them , out of my side. So I'd be very happy to see the pop. I see some pot plants. They're pretty small little babies.
S2: So what time is the event itself ? 420.
S1: All right. It's 4:00. Exactly. All right , so let me let me roll that joint after skipping it.
S4: If I go , I got the other with all of our girls that I don't.
S1: So during the campaign event , Juan Carlos was talking with people who were just driving by and telling him about his proposals and of course , asking them to vote for him.
S4: Why not ? Because I grew up in Missouri. I know it's nothing I like. It wasn't for me. Honestly.
S1: Honestly. It was hilarious. I've never been to a political event like this because he was going from car to car to little weed planning , saying motel , motel.
S2: Motel area , legal weed. That sounds super crazy.
S1: And the only politician I want.
S2: The only politician we need.
S4: I think. But I'm willing to blow the unions on that. It was going to be poisonous going into the Arizona law to decide to do what I thought was a spoiler button for me and put my little boy Mendoza. I know.
S2: Look , I'm going to be totally honest with you. I have seen politicians at campaign events like this before , and when they approach me to talk about their proposals , I don't pay much attention to what they're saying or even take the energy to remember their names. But see , you'll be an apostle. But I. You'll be useful as planters the weed. I would totally remember the name of this politician having two legal plants of weed.
S1: Yeah , it's unforgettable.
S2: It is.
S1: Especially in Mexico.
S2: Yes , especially Mexico.
S3: Ironically , because I'm in an orange shirt , what with all the wealth of ethical posture , they close the windows when they see me. But when they see the plant , they open the window and they lower the volume and the radio. So. Yeah.
S2: So here's the thing about weed in Mexico. Or at least I'm going to speak for Baja , California. Iguana has always been known as the kind of lawless place , easy access to canneries , you know , the one that the killer successfully marijuana. But come on , it's more complex than that.
S1: Yeah , a lot of our parents and Mexican people have different and maybe outdated ideas about weed. Some people believe the legalization of cannabis will bring more crime to the country. And this is because weed has always been controlled by the drug cartels.
S2: There is also a complete lack of information on the subject because some people also believe cannabis somehow creates drug addicts.
S1: Yeah , this weed taboo that has been circulating for years , according to Juan Carlos , is pure hypocrisy.
S2: I agree with him.
S3: My main line right now throughout my campaign is stop being a hypocrite. Don't be a hypocrite. And this has been around for a while in fortunes that have been made through cannabis and then saying that that doesn't exist. It's basically hypocrisy.
S1: So you know how they say that a series of small actions can build up and have a big impact on something ? Well , Juan Carlos lost this election in 2021 and he never became a state congressman. But all the things he's been doing to break the cannabis taboo alongside hundreds of other weed activists across Mexico has made an impact in the country's progress towards legalization. Yeah.
S2: Yeah. And speaking out in order to bring important issues that nobody wants to talk about to the table is exactly what activism is about. Activism.
S3: So my my activism , it's it's far from the decision makers. But I think what we're doing here in the North and my activism in making the Juana a leader in the industry is going to is going to actually influence Seattle. I mean , the fact that our government , our governor presented a bill had impact in Seattle , Mexico , like eight. There's a state that is trying to do this and we have to to to head the gas. You know , we have to make this move faster.
S1: So in a way , Juan Carlos always knew the possibilities of winning were limited. Still , he says , they got way more votes than they were expecting.
S2: But losing has never been a reason for Juan Carlos to stop his activism.
S3: We built something that that that was the first time that I was the candidate and that I'm not going to be the last. I was going to have.
S1: To run again. Okay.
S3: I'm going to keep pursuing the the the the public space so I can I can use my abilities to help other people.
S2: Think about this. We are living in the busiest border region in the world. Two cities always compared and contrasting. One is good , one is bad. One is rich. One is poor.
S1: But if we step back and we see it for what it is a place that is interconnected , the cannabis industry could learn from and benefit from the experiences on both sides of the border. I mean , if cannabis is a medicine and it truly is , it doesn't care if you're Mexican or American or what it says on your passport.
S3: We're next to California. And the biggest market in the biggest producer of cannabis in the world right now is California. Like , I'm doing what I'm doing because I was able to work in California for five years , you know , in a cannabis farm , like a big one. So the fact that we're right next to California , that the biggest market is right next to us , give us the opportunity to learn.
S2: By 2024 when Juan Carlos runs again , because he will. The hope is for cannabis to already be legal.
S3: I'm going to do everything that's on my hands to make it legal. It's not just me doing it. There's a lot of activists nationwide like pushing this. So I'm pretty sure that the collective effort is going to make this happen by the end of next year. It's going to be something already , like something in the industry already going on. Good things are happening in the cannabis industry.
S2: Of course , legalizing weed is not the only thing Juan Carlos is trying to achieve. He has so many good proposals that are so important to Tijuana or , you know , any place in the world , like making sure kids are receiving a proper education.
S1: Things so basic like having access to clean water. He's really committed and pushing the bar to making his home a place where everyone can have a dignified life.
S3: I love my , my , my young days here and the one I love my my being a child here and the one I have being a teenager here in Tijuana and being a young adult here. And the one I'm the one has been good to me. That's because there's jobs , there's money , there's opportunities. So I'm going to try to keep the essence of Tijuana intact and do what I have to do. So Tijuana is still the land of opportunities.
S2: On the next episode of Port of Entry , we look into the opportunities that legalising cannabis may bring to this border community.
S3: California in general has the best weed in the world. You know , California cannabis is the brand.
S1: We talk with the most famous weed shop owner in San Ysidro , just north of the border , and ask some of their cross-border customers how cannabis has improved their lives.
S2: They feel like Mexico is very controlled by drugs that don't need to be controlled. Is that even a drug at the plant ? You know what I mean ? Also , we meet an impresario.
S1: An entrepreneur.
S2: In Tijuana who's been preparing for legalization with a very creative business venture.
S1: My name is Peter Costello and I'm the owner of the Corona High Club behind High Club with a smoke shop. We hope we can be the first one selling with an iguana. If you want to learn more about Juan Carlos and his work , you can go check his webpage. Juan Carlos Punto images. That's J you.And C Agro Economics or follow him on Facebook at Juan Carlos Amex.
S2: Don't forget to follow us on Instagram at Port of Entry Port.
S1: This episode of Port of Entry was written and produced by Natalie Gonzalez and Elisa Barba.
S2: Other Media. Lobos is a director of sound design.
S1: Elisa Barba is also our editor.
S2: Lisa marie Set is operations manager and John Decker is the interim associate general manager of content.
S1: This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting , a private corporation funded by the American people. So , Alan Lilienthal.
S2: Each of you. Not the only oneself.
S1: But I see as you.
Port of Entry is back, this time with a series of stories on how the border can change minds.