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Tijuana High Club. / Photo courtesy of Pedro Gastélum.

California’s legal marijuana industry is having an influence in Tijuana.

Entrepreneurs are seeing the potential for a new market as Mexico’s federal government appears to be slowly marching toward legalization. But patients in Tijuana who require medical marijuana more urgently have had to turn to the courts to get access to marijuana products for medical purposes.

A New Business Opportunity

At the end of April, Pedro Gastelum opened the Tijuana High Club. Marijuana products aren’t legal in Mexico, but Gastelum noticed how many Tijuanenses were taking advantage of California’s legal market and bringing products from San Diego or Los Angeles to Tijuana.

The Tijuana High Club sells mainly accessories, like cartridges, pens and vaporizers.

“There was a need,” Gastelum said. “We saw this market. Because sometimes you go downtown and the only stores that sold these were mixed with tattoos, music or metal rock T-shirts.”

Gastelum said business has been good. He usually sees 20 to 30 customers a day, he said.

He believes legalization in Mexico is inevitable, but that it will take some time.

“When it happens it will be big because we’ll be the first one in Baja,” he said. “We’re ready.”

Fighting for Patients’ Rights

Unlike entrepreneurs, though, patients can’t wait, said Felipe Saucedo of Fundación Loto Roja, a nonprofit that advocates for medical marijuana.

In 2016, the federal government authorized Cofapris — the Mexican agency most similar to the FDA — to start crafting regulations for medical marijuana usage. But with the change in federal leadership, the whole thing has stalled, Saucedo said.

So his organization has turned to legal remedies, asking courts to grant patients access to the marijuana products they need. In August, Fundacion Loto Roja asked for court orders allowing 25 patients access to medical cannabis treatment.

“I see a green rush, all over the place, but in reality in terms of regulation it’s not even close,” Saucedo said. “And the ones that are really being affected are patients.”

Supreme Court Says Ban on Central American Migrants Can Continue

While litigation continues, the U.S. Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration to restrict asylum for non-Mexican migrants who passed through a third country before reaching the U.S. border. The ruling lifted a lower court’s injunction that prevented the asylum restriction from being implemented.

Buzzfeed’s Hamed Aleaziz tweeted that immigration judges were told Thursday the ban on asylum-seekers will retroactively apply to those who crossed after July 16 and who have deportation hearings scheduled for after the day the ruling came down.

The Union-Tribune interviewed migrants waiting in Tijuana and local immigration attorneys — all of whom are confused about how the policy will play out on the ground.

The Latest on ‘Remain in Mexico’

  • With the new asylum ruling, the future of the Migration Protection Protocols — or the so-called ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy that requires asylum seekers to wait for their proceedings in Mexico — is unclear.
  • The Los Angeles Times found that the Migration Protection Protocols appear to be violating the law in numerous ways.
  • The policy is also overwhelming immigration courts along the border, like San Diego’s, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Fed up with the shortage of shelter space in Tijuana, especially as the Trump administration returns asylum-seekers to Mexico, a group of Central American migrants are building their own shelter, the Union-Tribune reports. Hundreds of migrants have also started working in Baja California, according to the state’s Secretary of Labor.

Border Apprehensions Are Down

Border apprehensions decreased in August for the third month in a row, and the United States has credited Mexico and Central America for their enforcement efforts. Apprehensions are down to about 50,000, compared with 67,000 in February, the month President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the border. In March, San Diego was home to the largest number of apprehensions, Customs and Border Protection said in a press release. There were 6,880 arrests, and the number has been falling since then. It was 3,326 in August.

Border Patrol statistics typically show a drop in apprehensions during the summer months, when crossings are particularly dangerous because of the hot weather. Despite the decline, arrests in August remained at their highest level in a decade when compared to past Augusts, the Washington Post reports.

There’s still technically a national emergency at the border, though, which has resulted in increased resources being funneled there. The Senate is expected to force another vote on the national emergency this month, Politico reports.

More Border News

Maya Srikrishnan

Maya was Voice of San Diego’s Associate Editor of Civic Education. She reported on marginalized communities in San Diego and oversees Voice’s explanatory...

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