Border Patrol Intercepts Nearly $10M at U.S.-Mexico Border in Texas

A massive bust at the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, was announced last Friday, and law enforcement agents presented the seizure with stacked bales of cannabis in a wall-like structure that was posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

In a single swoop, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers assigned to the World Trade Bridge seized over two tons of cannabis. Border agents searched a suspected freight truck and found it was loaded 4,466 pounds of pot, with a street value of nearly 10 million dollars.

The bust took place last Thursday, on Sept. 14 at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo. A CBP officer flagged a 2023 freightliner tractor trailer that claimed to ship home goods for secondary inspection. And after a thorough examination using the border patrol’s non-intrusive inspection system, CBP officers discovered 177 packages containing a total of 4,466 pounds of alleged cannabis within the trailer. Law enforcement agents say it has a street value of $9,904,204, outlined in a Sept. 15 news release.

“Our CBP officers continue to maintain strict vigilance in our cargo environment and this week they came up big, with a seizure of more than two tons of marijuana,” said Port Director Albert Flores, Laredo Port of Entry. “We have not seen as much marijuana lately compared to the harder narcotics but it underscores the ever changing nature of the drug threat our officers face on a daily basis.”

CBP agents are primarily concerned with cannabis and drugs that are headed into the country, instead of headed the other way.

A photo shows the packages containing 4,466 pounds of cannabis seized by CBP officers at World Trade Bridge. CBP agents seized the cannabis, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents are currently investigating the seizure. 

CPB is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry. CBP is one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations with the primary goal of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S., but also enforcing  lawful international travel and trade.

Cannabis seizures along the U.S.-Mexico border, which stretches nearly 2,000 miles, have actually fallen dramatically in recent years, aligning neatly with adult-use cannabis laws in the West: Seizure fell from about 1,350 metric tons in 2013 to around 70 metric tons in 2022, according to CBP statistics.

Cannabis Crossing the Border From Both Ends

The U.S.-Mexico border is not the only borderline you need to worry about in 2023.

In 2019, border patrol seized $100,000 worth of cannabis in upstate New York near Canada.

Border Patrol agents and police officers seized approximately 50 pounds of cannabis in upstate New York in 2019  in a traffic stop near the U.S-Canadian border. Officials estimated the value of the pot at more than $100,000, according to a press release from CPB.

Agents assigned to the Massena Border Patrol Station were on duty when they pulled over a red pickup truck in the parking lot of a hotel in Hogansburg, New York. After requesting assistance from other nearby law enforcement agencies, the Border Patrol agents were joined by officers from the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police (SRMTP) and the New York State Police (NYSP).

After a canine unit with the SRMTP smelled something in the vehicle, the officers discovered the cannabis hidden in luggage which was stowed in the extended cab of the pickup truck.

Up north, some people are doing it by accident: The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) released a press release on June 26 as a reminder for people traveling for the holidays that no cannabis is allowed across the border.

For those who plan to traverse the border between the U.S. and Canada, CBSA recommends tips such as planning ahead for border wait times, saving time with an Advance Declaration, and having travel documents handy. The topic of cannabis was also shared in this list as well.

The section entitled “Cannabis: Don’t bring it in. Don’t take it out.” refers to the restrictions of cannabis being brought across the border. “Bringing cannabis across the border in any form, including oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada is a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada. A medical prescription from a doctor does not count as Health Canada authorization.”

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Three-Fingered ‘Alien Corpses’ Unveiled to Mexican Congress Amid Heavy Skepticism

A journalist and UFO researcher recently testified to Mexico’s national congress that he had discovered what he believed to be two small alien corpses dating back over 1,000 years during an archaeological excavation in Cusco, Peru.

According to the Independent, the alleged corpses were presented by Jaime Maussan, a self-proclaimed ufologist who was responsible for reporting the Nazca mummies to Gaia back in 2017. Those particular mummies were unearthed near the Nazca Lines which are a group of geoglyphs in the desert sands of Peru, some of which take the shape of a humanoid being with three-fingered hands. Those mummies turned out to be the bodies of human children which only appeared to be three-fingered. I gotta say though, the mummified beings unveiled in Mexico Wednesday look far more convincing than the Nazca mummy for whatever that’s worth. 

“These specimen are not part of our terrestrial evolution… These aren’t beings that were found after a UFO wreckage,” Maussan said. “They were found in diatom (algae) mines, and were later fossilized.”

The two mummies unveiled by Maussan in glass cases were very small, with what appeared to be three-fingered hands and elongated faces. X-Ray images were also displayed of what appeared to be eggs inside the mummies. Maussan stated that researchers at the Autonomous National University of Mexico utilized radiocarbon dating to analyze the samples and found over 30% of the DNA analyzed to be of unknown origin. The bodies were shown alongside a presentation about UFO sightings, which there seem to be exponentially more of lately, not to mention congressional hearings regarding the same.

Speaking of congressional hearings, Ryan Graves, a former Navy fighter pilot who testified before the U.S. House of Representatives in July about UFOs was in attendance when Maussan showed the world the suspected aliens. 

“Unidentified objects in our airspace present an urgent and critical safety and national security issue, but pilots are not getting the support they need and the respect they deserve,” Graves said to NBC in June ahead of his testimony in the congressional hearings. “When I served, my squadron was encountering UAP nearly every day, and nothing was being done.” 

Graves, however, was not convinced of the legitimacy of Maussan’s claims to say the least. In fact, he went out of his way to call them the equivalent of utter nonsense.

“After the U.S. Congressional UFO hearing, I accepted an invitation to testify before the Mexican Congress hoping to keep up the momentum of government interest in pilot experiences with UAP.  Unfortunately, yesterday’s demonstration was a huge step backwards for this issue,” Graves said on X (formerly known as Twitter). “My testimony centered on sharing my experience and  the UAP reports I hear from commercial and military aircrew through ASA’s witness program. I will continue to raise awareness of UAP as an urgent matter of aerospace safety, national security, and science, but I am deeply disappointed by this unsubstantiated stunt.”

Doubt was raised almost immediately about Maussan’s findings, as several researchers pointed out back in 2018 that the Nazca mummies appeared to be the combination of looted body parts taken from different skeletons which were then pieced together to resemble something that looked non-human. This was never proven, but a dozen Peruvian researchers signed a sworn statement saying, in much fancier language, that it was not cool to do that to ancient skeletal remains.

“I particularly find repulsive that anyone would [dare] to dehumanize deceased human bodies. You can’t take away the condition of human to a human being!” said Guido Lombardi, a professor of forensic sciences at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia to Live Science in 2018.

Mexico’s Congress accepting testimony on these samples of potential non-human remains is the latest in a long line of government inquiries regarding UFO sightings. The United States Pentagon reported in January that since opening up the “All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office” in 2022 they received 171 reports of aerial phenomenon which “appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities, and require further analysis.” In case all those book-learning military words confused you, that means last year Americans spotted 171 random objects hurling around our airways in a manner and speed that should not be possible according to modern science. 

Whether we’re being infiltrated by alien invaders or catching glimpses of mad human scientists with access to technology beyond our wildest dreams remains to be seen, as does the legitimacy of Maussan’s alleged extraterrestrial corpses. But we are seeing something up there in the skies. I’ve personally seen a UFO and so has an alarming percentage of the United States military. Don’t change that channel, folks! Shit’s gonna get weird!

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Mexican Navy Seizes More Than Four Tons of Cocaine After High-Speed Chase at Sea

Dramatic new footage released by Mexico’s Navy shows officers carrying out a major drug bust after a high-speed chase at sea.

The footage, which has been widely reported on in the media, depicts a pair of operations carried out by the Navy; in one, an officer can be seen descending from an overhead helicopter to arrive on a boat that was carrying a large amount of drugs.

According to CTV News, “Mexican authorities say they have seized some 9,700 pounds of cocaine during two operations on Aug. 22 and 23 in the Pacific Ocean.”

“Both operations resulted in high-speed boat chases at sea,” CTV News reported. “Mexican authorities say they also found more than 5,000 litres of fuel. Eleven people were detained and handed over to the prosecutor’s office.”

Cocaine trafficking has exploded in recent years.

A report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released earlier this year indicated that production of cocaine had skyrocketed to record levels after lagging for a stretch during the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had a disruptive effect on drug markets. With international travel severely curtailed, producers struggled to get their product to market. Night clubs and bars were shut as officials ramped up their attempts to control the virus, causing demand to slump for drugs like cocaine that are often associated with those settings,” the report said.

“However, the most recent data suggests this slump has had little impact on longer-term trends. The global supply of cocaine is at record levels. Almost 2,000 tons was produced in 2020, continuing a dramatic uptick in manufacture that began in 2014, when the total was less than half of today’s levels.”

According to the report, the surge in cocaine has “partly [been] a result of an expansion in coca bush cultivation, which doubled between 2013 and 2017, hit a peak in 2018, and rose sharply again in 2021.”

“But it is also due to improvements in the process of conversion from coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride. In parallel, there has been a continuing growth in demand, with most regions showing steadily rising numbers of users over the past decade. Although these increases can be partly explained by population growth, there is also a rising prevalence of cocaine use. Interceptions by law enforcement have also been on the rise, at a higher speed than production, meaning that interdiction has contained the growth of the global amount of cocaine available for consumption,” the report stated

Given all that, perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that news of major cocaine busts seem to surface regularly these days.

In June, law enforcement officials in Uruguay broke up an international drug ring after police there were alerted to half a dozen surfboards that contained a total of 50kg (110lb) of cocaine.

Three Italians were arrested as part of the bust.

In May, police in Hong Kong seized $82.97 million worth of cocaine and cannabis. 

And in February, law enforcement authorities in New Zealand announced that they had sezied “3.2 tonnes of cocaine afloat” in the Pacific Ocean, saying they had taken roughly a half-billion dollars worth of the drug out of circulation.

The report from the United Nations explained that consolidation has upended the cocaine trade in one of the drug’s longstanding hubs, Colombia.

“The cocaine trade in Colombia was once controlled by just a few major players. As a result of a fragmentation of the criminal landscape following the demobilization of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) in 2016, it now involves criminal groups of all sizes, structures and objectives,” the report said. “But, signs of consolidation of some of these groups have recently emerged. These developments have led to an increasing presence of foreign actors in Colombia. Mexican and Balkan criminal groups have moved closer to the centre of production to gain access to supplies and wholesale quantities of cocaine. These foreign groups are not aiming to take control of territory. Instead, they are trying to make supply lines more efficient. Their presence is helping to incentivize coca bush cultivation and finance all stages of the supply chain.” 

It continued: “In established cocaine markets, the proportion of the general population using the drug is high. But these markets only cover around one-fifth of the global population. If the prevalence in other regions increases to match established markets, the number of users globally would increase tremendously because of the large underlying population. This type of market convergence has already been happening in the case of Western and Central Europe, where purity levels and prices have harmonised with the United States, although prevalence of cocaine use in Western and Central Europe has not yet reached the level in the United States.”

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Cannabeginners: The History of Acapulco Gold

One of High Time’s 25 Greatest Strains of All Time, Acapulco Gold is a legendary cultivar that is so rare these days the gold in the name might as well be a reference to its scarcity, rather than its color. Yet it was once one of the most commonly found cultivars in the hippie days of the 1960s on the West Coast of the U.S., and later was a crucial lifeline to funding the growth of the early punk scene in the 1980s. 

History of Acapulco Gold

As legend has it, Acapulco Gold (also called Mexican sativa) originated high up in the Guerrero Mountains, east of the port city of Acapulco. Not only was this warm, wet, coastal climate ideal for cannabis cultivation, the location on the Pacific coast made it primary territory for Californian surfers searching for big waves and strong bud. It would only be a matter of time before those surfers and others would bring Acapulco Gold back home with them.

According to Royal Queen Seeds, “Acapulco Gold first showed up in the United States back in 1964,” which tracks with the history of Romulan, where Mexican genetics first appeared in the 1960s. If that timeline is accurate, Acapulco Gold would have arrived in San Francisco just in time for the birth of the hippie movement and 1967’s Summer of Love, a perfect time and place to become a cultural icon. Cementing its status as a connoisseur-grade cultivar, Cheech and Chong immortalized Acapulco Gold by featuring it in Up in Smoke and creating a slogan for it, “No sticks no seeds that you don’t need. Acapulco Gold is….Bad Ass Weed.”

Gary Tovar: From Acapulco Gold to Goldenvoice

When you scour the internet for information about Acapulco Gold, while some finer details of stories might be a bit different, they all tend to mention the same man, smuggler and concert promoter, Gary Tovar. Tovar smuggled a variety of goods over the years, but in the late 1960s he began to smuggle cannabis into the U.S., both seeds and bud, which became “California’s largest marijuana operation.” The most notable cultivars that Tovar smuggled were Afghani, Thai Stick, and Acapulco Gold. Eventually, he would earn millions of dollars before being arrested for drug trafficking in 1991, and imprisoned the following year until 1999. 

In 1978, Tovar entered a new phase of his life, with the hippie movement long dead, the counterculture sought a new music to define the era, and Tovar found that in punk rock at a Sex Pistols concert. Three years later, Tovar founded the concert promotion company Goldenvoice (named for a different cannabis cultivar) to bring punk to the masses. The 1980s was a very different time than 2023, and many venues were afraid to host punk shows out of fears of violence; punk also faced law enforcement crackdowns. 

According to a profile on Tovar, “Punk’s lifeline was cash from cannabis, and music provided a way to wash the proceeds from the trade.” By his own estimation, Tovar spent over $4 million promoting punk music and bringing major British bands to the U.S., which all came from his cannabis business. “When I was doing both my things – smuggling and concerts – I considered them crusades,” Tovar said, adding “Now I think we won on both ends. Our music won – you can hear a Ramones song in an elevator – and we won on the marijuana front.” It wasn’t just punk music though, Tovar was an early booster of goth, industrial, and all sorts of alternate music, and he worked with artists including Siouxsie and the Banshees, GBH, Public Image LTD, Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses, and Jane’s Addiction, just to name a few. Even though Tovar stepped away from Goldenvoice in 1991 when he went to prison, Goldenvoice has thrived and their flagship festival, Coachella, is one of the most well-known music festivals in the world. 

As the history laid out by Royal Queen Seeds says Acapulco Gold came to the U.S. earlier than Tovar was smuggling it, chances are, he may not have been the first person to bring Acapulco Gold to the U.S., but the identity of that person is lost to the ages. The other name mentioned in connection to Gary Tovar is an associate of Tim Leary known as LaRue, who was Tovar’s connection for Afghani seeds, but no sources clearly connect LaRue to Acapulco Gold. 


Flavor/Terpene Profile

True Acapulco Gold is a pure sativa, which makes sense given how close it originated to the equator. As we have discussed, the terms indica and sativa aren’t the most scientifically accurate terms for predicting the effects of a cultivar. That being said, Acapulco Gold is known to be a very energizing cultivar, as one would expect from a sativa. Some sources online have it listed as a hybrid with some indica genetics in the mix, though most refer to it as being a sativa landrace, this discrepancy may be a result of the lack of clarity over what denotes a “pure sativa” cultivar.

The flavor and scent of Acapulco Gold ranges in description from “an intense fruit cocktail flavor,” to “earthy overtones mixed with hints of spice, citrus, and rich toffee/honey-like sweetness.” From my past experience smoking it, nearly a decade ago, it was very fruity, more of a tropical than citrus sweetness, with some spice to balance it out. This makes sense given that its terpene profile tends to be dominated by myrcene (which is found in mangos and would impart a tropical sweetness) and beta-caryophyllene (which would give it that spiciness), there also are notable amounts of limonene (which is responsible for the citrus flavor often noted). 

Is Real Acapulco Gold Actually Gold?

As we discussed in the last section, there is some debate over the exact genetics of Acapulco Gold (how sativa-leaning it is), which could be because it is so rare you have people claiming something is Acapulco Gold when it is not (similar to what some have claimed about Blue Dream). Royal Queen Seeds has this caveat emptor, “Nowadays, many seed banks sell their own version of Acapulco Gold. Some of them can trace the genetics back to Mexican origins, whereas others have slapped the title on unrelated hybrids.” 

One of the most notable characteristics of Acapulco Gold, the source of its namesake, is its color. So does that mean that all Acapulco Gold should be golden in color? According to Tovar, the golden color was from the wind burning the bud yellow, and the older it was by the time it got to the US, the more the color faded to gold. That means the color really was due more to environmental factors and poor storage practices during smuggling than a result of genetics, and perhaps Acapulco Gold grown in a different climate would not be gold.

Do you have an Acapulco Gold story to share or a tip about its origins? Let us know with a comment!

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Mexican Drug Cartels Are Using Monster Trucks Like Killing Machines

If you’ve ever listened to country music (there’s no shame in embracing your inner redneck), you’ve likely heard about cowboys modifying their trucks to have as much Big Dick Energy as possible. And when the rapper DMX died (rest in power) in 2021, his brilliant red casket was carried around his home city, New York, in a customized Ford F250 with “Long Live DMX” inscribed on its side.

But in Mexico, drug cartels are making monster trucks to use like tanks. The cartels are retrofitting pickups with battering rams, four-inch-thick steel plates welded onto their chassis complete with turrets for firing machine guns, The New York Times reports

These clever yet criminal gangs transforming trucks include the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, who use the vehicles for gun fights with the cops. The Treasury Department described Jalisco New Generation Cartel as one of the world’s “most prolific and violent drug trafficking organizations.” Known for their ultra-violence, they primarily deal with cocaine and meth and allegedly have forced recruits to engage in cannibalism by eating the flesh of murdered victims, The Daily Beast reports

Others, including the Gulf Cartel (one of Mexico’s oldest and original cartels) and the Northeast Cartel, bloodily enhance the vehicles to battle one another. They, too, proudly adorn the trucks with their initials, and camouflage is also a popular design (and makes it tricky to tell the monster trucks apart from the police’s vehicles). Mexican security forces call these trucks monstruos (monsters), rinocerontes (rhinos), and narcotanques (narco-tanks). Other weapons include (perhaps outfitted in the monster trucks) steel-penetrating Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and rocket-propelled grenades strong enough to shoot down military helicopters. 

It tracks that the cartels would utilize monster trucks. They have long used mechanic skills to modify cars to smuggle drugs across borders. Monster trucks really can be the war machines demolition derbies in the U.S., with car names like Reaper or Grave Digger, want them to be. “The monsters are the way to send the message, ‘I’m in charge, and I want everyone to see I’m in charge,’” said Mr. Le Cour, senior expert at the Switzerland-based Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. “These are commando-style groups looking to replicate special forces in how they’re armed, how they’re trained, how they look” shares The New York Times.

But what’s happening in Mexico with monster trucks makes American demolition derbies look as innocent as a trip to DisneyLand. The cartel transforms trucks like the Ford Lobo (known as the Ford F-150 in the United States), the Ford Raptor, Chevrolet Tahoe, and even bigger vehicles such as dump trucks and heavy-duty trucks with large flatbeds and two rear wheels on each side. Technically, armoring a vehicle without authorization is a crime in Mexico punishable by up to 15 years in prison. This law has not stopped the weaponization of monster trucks. 

The state prosecutor’s office in Tamaulipas, the state along the border of North East Mexico, issued a statement last year citing the “danger to the safety of the community” the modified vehicles, which are especially prominent along the border, present. Since 2019, authorities destroyed more than 260 of these armored monster trucks just in Tamaulipas, one of Mexico’s 31 states, which along with Mexico City, make up the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. 

As badass as the amped-up trucks may sound, even the cartel has car problems. Weighed down by steel plates, the monstruos can be heavy, slow, and challenging to drive, especially in cities. Also, all that modification can lead to mechanical breakdowns. “They’re too slow, too heavy,” said Alexei Chévez, a security analyst based in Cuernavaca, Mexico, writes The New York Times. And the retrofitting of the vehicles means that some of their parts malfunction. “We see them constantly breaking down and being abandoned,” Mr. Chévez said.

But there’s one more weapon the cartels have at their disposal which will help ensure the deadly monster truck’s legacy: social media. The monstruos often appear on TikTok, tricked out and deadly, accompanied by cartel rap songs. While the Mexican police will continue to battle them, it’s hard to fight cool. 

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The Ultimate Cannabis-Friendly Travel Guide

Summer is the magical time of year when we embark on the thrilling quest of finding the perfect country to explore. If you’re all about that herbaceous adventure, typical wanderlust lists might not deliver the exhilaration you crave. While 23 US states have opened their arms to the wondrous world of weed, it’s easy to forget that not every country is rolling out the welcome mat for cannabis-friendly travel. The last thing you want is to end up in legal trouble because you enjoyed a little green goodness on your well-deserved vacation.

Thankfully, as the legalization waves washed over the world, there are big-ticket travel destinations you can travel to and toke-tally immerse yourself in the local scene. A recent study by WEEDAR, a loyalty and distribution platform for cannabis brands, has analyzed the crème de la crème of tourist destinations and revealed the 15 most popular cannabis-friendly travel hotspots. These aficionados looked closely at the top 48 most popular tourist destinations, handpicked by no less an authority than Condé Nast Traveler and ranked them based on four factors: legality, average cost, penalties and the percentage of people using cannabis in the area.

Image courtesy of WEEDAR

“People around the world are finally opening their eyes to the wonders of cannabis, but lawmakers are so slow in keeping up that you would suspect they’ve smoked a blunt or two themselves,” says Jonathan Bohun, founder and CEO of WEEDAR. “Not every country shares the community’s view that our favorite plant should be legalized, so stoners must be extra careful when booking a getaway. You don’t want to be caught with an edible stashed away when boarding a plane to a country where marijuana tourism is off-limits, but going cold turkey would put a real downer on the vacation… Luckily, there are plenty of destinations to fly to where you can relax without the worry of locals and law enforcement sniffing out your stash.”

So, my fellow herb enthusiasts, let’s light up, explore the best places for cannabis-friendly travel and create memories that will have us saying, “This trip was lit.”

Vancouver skyline, British Columbia, Canada at sunset
Vancouver skyline, Canada. PHOTO heyengel


Status: Legal

Costs: $7gram

Our friends in the Great White Green North became the second country in the world to fully legalize the cultivation, possession, acquisition and consumption of cannabis in 2018. With an impressive annual cannabis use indicator of 27%, it’s clear that Canadians know how to embrace the leafy wonders of the world. The average price of a gram is an affordable $7, and you can legally carry up to 30g and smoke in certain public places. As always, do your due diligence and check on the legality of public consumption in each territory.

Bacalar lagoon, Mexico. Cannabis-Friendly Travel
Bacalar lagoon, Mexico. PHOTO sitriel


Status: Legal

Cost: $8/gram

Picture endless stretches of pristine beaches, lush jungles teeming with life and ancient ruins whispering tales of the past. Now imagine adding your favorite plant to the mix, elevating your adventure to new heights of bliss. Welcome to Mexico. The best part? Mexico won’t break the bank. It’s a budget-friendly paradise where you can stretch your pesos while indulging in all the wonders this magical country has to offer. While Mexico is a haven for herb enthusiasts, with no penalties for possessing small amounts, it’s always best to play it cool and consume your cannabis discreetly; you don’t want to attract unwanted attention.

Rialto Bridge, Venice
Rialto Bridge, Venice. PHOTO sborisov


Status: Decriminalized

Cost: $10/gram.

Prepare to embark on an unforgettable journey through the land of amore, pizza and primo herb. Italy isn’t just famous for its stunning architecture, picturesque countryside and rich history, but it’s also a dream come true for all you herb-loving adventurers. Meander through cobblestone streets and gaze in awe at ancient wonders like the Colosseum or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, then indulge your munchies with the freshest pizza straight from a wood-fired oven, savoring silky gelato under the Mediterranean sun, or dive face-first into a plate of heavenly pasta. Bellissimo! You can purchase cannabis for around $9.50 per gram but it cannot be consumed publically.

Wat Mahathat Temple. Cannabis-Friendly Travel
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. PHOTO TTstudio


Status: Decriminalized

Cost: $6/gram

Step into the vibrant world of Spain, where an extraordinary cannabis community thrives and global cannabis fans flock every year to the popular Spannabis event, capturing the essence of a truly remarkable experience. Spain decriminalized cannabis consumption in private places in 2015 and since then, Barcelona has emerged as one of the top global hubs for social cannabis consumption, with a multitude of private cannabis clubs that invite you to immerse yourself in their captivating embrace. These clandestine establishments offer an extraordinary haven where the appreciation of cannabis flourishes like nowhere else on the planet and, good news, foreign visitors can join—which certainly adds to the popularity of this cannabis-friendly travel destination. However, this is a gray market and there are several caveats, including not carrying cannabis on you, not purchasing from a street dealer and no public consumption. If you are caught smoking cannabis in public, you may face penalties, so use your discretion.

Wat Mahathat Temple.
Wat Mahathat Temple, Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO world heritage site in Thailand. PHOTO coward_lion


Cannabis status: Legal

Cost: $10/gram

Get ready to pack your flip-flops and dive headfirst into a tropical paradise where the herb is waiting to take you on a blissful journey. Thailand, the land of smiles and spicy flavors is now a dream come true for cannabis tourists. Once known for having some of the strictest drug policies on the planet, Thailand has turned over a new leaf and cannabis use was decriminalized in 2022, making Thailand a must-visit destination for every bud-loving traveler. As you explore the vibrant cities of Thailand, you’ll find dispensaries sprouting up like colorful orchids from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. While there’s no shortage of green goodness waiting to be discovered, publicly smoking cannabis in public places is still a no-no. So find a cozy spot away from prying eyes and let the good times roll.

You can see all 15 cannabis-friendly travel destinations here.

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Mexico Seizes 630,000 Fentanyl Pills in Record Bust

Mexican authorities seized a massive cache of fentanyl pills this week in what they are describing as a record-setting bust. 

The country’s Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that the “Mexican Army personnel seized a fentanyl pill manufacturing center and the laboratory with the largest methamphetamine production capacity in the municipality of Culiacán, Sinaloa,” which is located in the northwestern part of Mexico.

The raid, which was carried out on Tuesday, yielded “629,138 pills of probable fentanyl, weighing approximately 68,576 kilograms,” government officials said in the announcement. 

The Ministry of Defense listed the soldiers’ other findings in the raid: “Approximately 128.03 kg of possible granulated fentanyl; Approximately 100 kg of possible methamphetamine; Approximately 750 kg of probable tartaric acid; Approximately 275 kg of possible mannitol; Approximately 225 kg of probable caustic soda; [and] 28 organic synthesis reactors.”

“Due to the number of reactors, the laboratory is the one with the largest synthetic drug production capacity that has been recorded historically and during the present administration,” the authorities said in the announcement

The defense ministry said that while “carrying out intelligence work to strengthen the rule of law in the country and detect criminal organizations with a presence in said federal entity, military personnel obtained information about a property and an area on the land that was used as a laboratory for the production of drugs in the Municipality of Culiacán, Sin.”

“Derived from the above and from the operational planning, elements of the Mexican Army carried out ground reconnaissance in the vicinity of Pueblos Unidos, municipality of Culiacán, Sin., where they located a production center and a clandestine laboratory for the production of synthetic drugs, for which military personnel implemented a security device,” the ministry said.

The announcement continued: “What was insured was made available to the competent authorities, in order to carry out the corresponding investigations and expert actions to confirm the type and quantity of drugs, as well as chemical substances.

These actions were carried out in strict adherence to the rule of law and with full respect for human rights. In this way, the Mexican Army reaffirms the indeclinable decision of the federal government to continue acting against organized crime, meeting the needs that society demands; Likewise, it endorses its commitment to ensure and safeguard the well-being of citizens, guaranteeing the peace and security of the population.”

The historic bust comes at a time when the United States is also struggling to contain the fentanyl trade within its own borders.

As CBS News noted, Tuesday’s bust “came on the same day that the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the huge number of U.S. fentanyl overdoses that occur annually, currently around 70,000,” with the committee chairman, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, pressing Mexico to step up its efforts to combat the problem.

“This means asking Mexico to do more to disrupt the criminal organizations from producing and trafficking fentanyl, although a politicized judiciary and incidents of Mexican security forces colluding with drug cartels will make that difficult,” the senator said, as quoted by CBS News.

CBS also noted that “Mexican drug cartels produce the opioid from precursor chemicals shipped from China, and then press it into pills counterfeited to look like Xanax, Percocet or Oxycodone,” and that people often “take the pills without knowing they contain fentanyl and can suffer deadly overdoses.”

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than “150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.”

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Put Down the Tobacco—We Have Surpassed the Need for Spliffs

If you don’t mix tobacco in your weed and none of your friends mix tobacco in their weed, right on, you’re killing it, this one isn’t for you. 

The way we smoke weed has gone through some pretty rapid changes over the past few decades—dabs, pre-rolls, vape pens, and plenty of USB-C charged devices that will instantly vaporize your favorite flower or concentrate. So why are you still mixing tobacco into your joints?

Weed is too good to fuck up with a heavy sprinkle of American Spirit and you’re lying to yourself with every attempt to justify the outdated blend. It’s time to move beyond spliffs. 

People have been smoking spliffs—joints rolled with a mix of cannabis and tobacco—since the first documented instance of weed being rolled in Guadalajara, Mexico circa 1856. The tradition continued across the globe, with hash frequently mixed with tobacco and rolled for easy consumption. These days, spliffs are still popular across the U.S. Sure, it’s more prevalent in some places than others, but I know heavy stoners from New York to L.A. and plenty in between who keep a pack of cigs or pouch of loose leaf in their smoking kits at all times.

Times change though, and as we barrel headfirst into 2023, the excuses left for spliffing your weed are growing thinner than a king size rice paper. 

The most common reason I get when I ask people why they still add tobacco to their weed is that it “burns better,” and to that, I say this: learn how to roll better joints. If your joints are burning unevenly without tobacco, that’s a you problem, not a weed problem. Try packing it a little tighter, try pulling on it a little lighter, roll practice joints over and over until your fingers turn green and every single one looks, lights, and burns perfectly—it will be worth it, I promise. 

Next, spliff smokers will say that tobacco helps save them weed and therefore money. But weed is cheaper than it’s ever been and only getting cheaper while tobacco is only getting more expensive, with many cities and states adding higher and higher taxes for cigarettes and loose leaf. It might make some slight economic sense, but unless you’re spliffing top-shelf flower (we’ll get to that) you can probably afford to roll without tobacco; try buying shake or pre-ground weed if you need to make your bag stretch. If you’re really looking to make your favorite strain last, mix in some shake or mids with your exotics—just think of it as spliffing your joint with more weed.

What about the argument that adding tobacco to your weed gets you higher? First, I don’t believe that smoking less of the plant that does get you high and replacing it with the plant that doesn’t get you high will result in you getting higher. You know what will definitely get you higher? More weed. Don’t trust my back of the napkin math? Here’s a peer-reviewed study that says the same thing. 

Funny enough, I have also heard the opposite explanation, that weed alone is simply too intoxicating, and that tobacco helps to ease the effects. In that instance, I simply recommend smoking less weed.

Most importantly though, stop spliffing your weed because it completely changes the flavor of your flower. 

Decades of arduous, focused, illegal cannabis breeding have created a plant that is potent and flavorful with a constantly evolving menu of unique varieties. Tobacco and weed mixed just fine in the flavorless days of brick weed and densely packed black hash, but the way weed smells, tastes, and smokes in 2023? It’s a thing of art. Why dilute that experience?

I have slightly more patience for blunts, mainly because they do not disguise the presence of tobacco like a spliff does, and because they don’t ruin the flavor of the weed quite as much, but at the end of the day, sacrificing any amount of terp profile for the sake of a nicotine buzz is still kind of a bummer in my book. 

I’m not here to judge your tobacco consumption, smoke 10 cigarettes right before we smoke a joint and another half a pack after, all good, I’m just here to defend weed. 

You might need tobacco, but weed doesn’t. 

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Baja California Governor Says She’s ‘Totally Behind’ on Medical Cannabis

The leader of the Mexican state Baja California offered a full-throated endorsement of medical cannabis last week as debate surrounding the issue continues to rankle lawmakers in the country.

Marina del Pilar Avila, who serves as governor of Baja California, told reporters that she is “totally behind the legalization of marijuana as a way to treat chronic illnesses,” as quoted by the news outlet Border Report

As the outlet noted, currently “the Mexican Senate is debating legalizing the widespread use of pot in Mexico.”

But Avila’s endorsement of the treatment is not shared by other leaders in Baja California. 

Norma Bustamante, the mayor of Mexicali, which is the capital city of Baja California, “came out against Avila’s statement” almost immediately, according to Border Report.

“As a public servant, I’m always respectful of the law and as a woman, mother and grandmother of teenagers, I am against the use of drugs including marijuana and even cigarettes,” Bustamante said, as quoted by Border Report

Adrián Medina Amarillas, who serves as the health secretary of Baja California, begs to differ.

“When the country allows the use of medical marijuana, we’ll be among the first to use it to treat chronic illnesses that don’t respond to conventional treatments among them cancer and Parkinson’s,” Medina said, as quoted by the outlet.

Long a robust producer and exporter of cannabis, Mexico’s marijuana laws are shrouded in ambiguity. As Leafly puts it: “It’s complicated.”

“Marijuana currently exists in a legal flux state in Mexico. It’s not entirely legal, but it’s not entirely illegal either,” Leafly explains. “Medical cannabis is technically legal in Mexico, but there is no legal framework in place to obtain a prescription or prove one’s own legal medical status. Possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis for any purpose, medical or otherwise, has been effectively decriminalized nationwide, although local and federal police often do not respect this status.”

As for recreational pot, possession “of up to 5 grams of cannabis is effectively legal since it was decriminalized federally in 2009, along with limited amounts of a number of other drugs, by authorities seeking to free up resources and separate public health issues from traffic crimes.”

“People found with less than 5 grams of cannabis should, according to the law, be encouraged into free treatment programs, but in reality they are still coerced into paying police bribes to be released from custody. They are generally not prosecuted for personal amounts, though the law states that purchasing and possessing amounts in excess of 5 grams can carry prison sentences of 10 months to 3 years,” Leafly explains.

The uncertain nature of that policy has prompted advocates and lawmakers to call for comprehensive cannabis reform. 

In August, Olga Sánchez Cordero, president of the Senate Board of Directors, “urged approval of the reform to regulate cannabis, since she considered that Mexico is lagging behind in the matter compared to Latin America and the world,” according to the Mexican news magazine Proceso

The magazine reported that, in Sánchez Cordero’s inaugural speech, she “recounted that Senator Margarita Valdez, president of the Upper House Health Committee, held a meeting in which representatives of Latin American countries asked her why Mexico did not regulate everything related to consumption of marijuana.”

“Now Senator Margarita Valdez told me that in a meeting she had, all our South American, Chilean, Argentine, Colombian brothers, in short, asked her when Mexico will take this important step in the regulation of cannabis. In my opinion, and I tell you this with all sincerity, I believe that we are falling behind the world if we do not make progress on this issue,” Sánchez Cordero, as quoted by Proceso

Additionally, the outlet reported that she “mentioned other issues on the legislative agenda that are relevant and that will be discussed during the next regular session that begins on September 1, such as the National Code of Civil and Family Procedures, consumer protection, issues of a energy and the protection of the human rights of migrants.”

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UCL To Lead First-Ever Brain Imaging Study Among Psychedelic Retreat Participants

Despite naysayers and prevailing attitudes echoing into the present day, it’s clear today that psychedelic medicine at the very least carries potential in treating mental health conditions and symptoms that have otherwise been difficult to treat or entirely resistant to treatment.

The model for legal psychedelic therapy, and most research looking at the efficacy of psychedelics for mental health treatments, is generally understood through psychedelic therapy centers. For states that have legalized psychedelic substances like psilocybin, or any number of ketamine clinics already operating in the U.S., this typically involves a combination of talk therapy, a controlled psychedelic dose, and supervision/guidance from a licensed professional.

But what about psychedelic retreats? These tailor-made psychedelic getaways typically take place in countries where psychedelic substances are allowed, similarly helping patients seeking symptom relief, or often a general mental reset, in a luxurious setting. 

Now, the public psychedelics practitioner training program F.I.V.E. has announced plans to collaborate with Tandava Retreats and University College London (UCL) on the first-ever EEG brain imaging study of 5-MeO-DMT among retreat center participants, Benzinga reports

Study collaborators are generally looking to uncover more information on 5-MeO-DMT’s mechanism of action and specifically within naturalistic settings over medical/clinical settings, along with how retreat participants could be better served as they use the substance in this setting.

The study’s principal investigator Jeremy Skipper said it’s important to look at the actual contexts these psychedelics are used in order to best understand the effects of such substances. 

“We hope to contribute not only to a better scientific understanding of how 5-MeO-DMT works in the brain, but also to enabling individualized approaches that maximize the efficacy of 5-MeO-DMT therapies and retreats,” Skipper told Benzinga.

Tandava CEO Joel Brierre, who is also the CEO of F.I.V.E., will coordinate the study along with F.I.V.E. President Victoria Wueschner. It will gather both qualitative and quantitative data from Tandava participants, assessing changes in well-being, beliefs, and personality. The study will use spontaneous neural imagery electroencephalography (EEG) on participants both before and during the psychoactive experience.

“These retreats allow you to explore the deepest realms of your innermost being, address behavioral habits that no longer serve you, and give you the freedom of life that you seek,” the Tandava website states. “We believe that no one should be a victim of their own mental patterning.”

Tandava is located in Tepoztlan, Mexico, and has the amenities anyone might expect on a tropical vacation: a hot jacuzzi, sauna, communal spaces, plenty of food and drink and private rooms for all visitors. With practitioners and integration specialists with varying backgrounds, Tandava offers a number of options, including a “transcultural” framework, an Indigenous/Shamanic approach, even a journey grounded by yoga. 

The site also mentions that each Tandava guide has been on their own psychedelic journey. 

Research has already affirmed that 5-MeO-DMT used in a naturalistic group setting can improve depression and anxiety, though of course there’s still a lot of catching up to do to fully understand its impacts, and the impacts of other psychedelic substances. The compound generally comes from the Sonoran Desert toad, Bufo alvarius, though Tandava Retreats uses synthetic 5-MeO-DMT to support species conservation and sourcing sustainability.

“We have found the experience of synthetic 5-MeO-DMT to be identical in nature to the toad secretion, which is important to note during the rise in popularity of this medicine,” Brierre told Benzinga. “Not only is synthetic safer and more effective to use with participants, but it has the repeatable consistency and precision dosage needed for proper research to be done.”

The study will cost about $108,437, though a U.K.-based charity has already donated $40,898 to the cause. Tandava will also match any funds raised and will donate retreat and integration costs for 15 of the 30 participants. There is also a crowdfund available for those interested in supporting the study.

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