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Marijuana Culture Publishing Is a Growth Industry - Except in Mexico

Valerie Vande Panne - Columbia Journalism Review
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November 12, 2017

A majority interest in High Times sold earlier this year for $70 million, and other cannabis publications have sprung up across the country, including The Cannabist, LadyBud, and Marijuana Business. And the quality of cannabis coverage has improved across the media, with serious stories in major outlets.

But just as mainstream acceptance of marijuana in the US hits all-time highs, one prominent cannabis media offering in Mexico is facing a government shutdown reminiscent of the 1960s.

The Mexican government is threatening to shutter the country’s sole marijuana culture magazine, Cañamo. Mexico’s Commission for the Qualification of Illustrated Publications and Magazines, a branch of the Ministry of the Interior, announced last summer it had denied the monthly glossy’s domestic circulation certification, because it says the magazine promotes “acts against morality and good manners” and it “apologizes for the consumption of prohibited substances.”

If the commission’s decision about Cañamo stands, anyone who publishes, sells, or circulates Cañamo could face 15 days in jail and fines, says Cañamo editor Julio Zenil.

What makes this crackdown odd is that Mexico’s government actually legalized medical marijuana last June (though they still do not have a regulated medical marijuana system). The commission’s secretary, Joel Ruiz, tells CJR that if Cañamo stuck to covering medical marijuana or the science of medical marijuana, per the new law, there wouldn’t be a problem. Rather, the magazine talks about marijuana culture, and recreational use, and therefore is promoting illicit activities.

... Today’s censorship in Mexican publishing echoes back to the roots of cannabis journalism: The free press movement of the 1960s, of which High Times founder Tom Forçade was a part. It was an underground publishing movement aimed at activism that that saw publications’ salesmen and vendors arrested. “It’s a clear parallel” to what’s happening to Cañamo, Bienenstock says. “The government is using its power to try to shut down a magazine because they don’t like what they [are publishing] about marijuana.”

Read the rest at Columbia Journalism Review

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