By Ines Amarelo
Mexico City, May 12 (EFE).- Amid an ongoing effort to legalize recreational marijuana use nationwide Mexico’s capital now has its first Amsterdam-style “coffee shop,” a space for exploring cannabis culture through talks, gatherings and food items containing purely non-psychoactive ingredients.
Guacamole and hummus with hemp seeds (the seed of the Cannabis sativa plant), books about marijuana and its cultural significance and a host of paraphernalia pertaining to this sector are some of the products on offer at La Juanita.
“It’s a space where we’ll have non-psychoactive, hemp-based food and beverages because there’s still a lack of regulation of the psychoactive. But there’s regulation of hemp that allows for these types of foods and beverages,” Carlos Zamudio, one of the founding partners of that cannabis cafe, said in an interview with Efe, referring to a product – hemp – that also is commercially produced to make products such as paper, rope, building materials and biofuel.
He added that La Juanita offers a selection of novelty food items for “people who are looking for non-animal protein alternatives and can find a good option here that’s delicious and healthy.”
Referring to the products and paraphernalia associated with cannabis culture, Zamudio said they are part of an “integral experience” that is offered “within the bounds of what’s legally possible.”
Mexico’s Supreme Court effectively assigned to lawmakers the task of regulating the nationwide recreational use of marijuana when it ruled in 2019 that an absolute ban was unconstitutional.
But the initiative is currently bogged down in the Senate, which has been unhappy with changes made in the lower house and asked the high court for an extension of an April 30 deadline.
Many consumers, however, see that delay as unnecessary and are demanding progress in legalizing the recreational use of cannabis in Mexico, which would become the third country in the world – after Uruguay and Canada – to permit a nationwide marijuana market.
While Saturday’s inauguration of La Juanita was not timed to coincide with passage of a marijuana legalization bill, since its ultimate goal is not to sell psychoactive cannabis, the coffee shop’s founders say they want to attract both users of psychoactive marijuana and people who enjoy other properties of the cannabis plant.
Indeed, they hope their awareness-raising activities “can serve as a bridge between those two sectors of the population,” as well as a means of connecting with other people who perhaps are not familiar with cannabis culture but want an initial introduction.
And with its location in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood, a chic, hipster district where people of many different nationalities and interests congregate, La Juanita’s owners believe it also can attract a clientele interested in health and good nutrition.
To that end, they plan to employ chefs with experience in creating hemp-based dishes and vegetarian and vegan meals and also promote different products for either consumption inside the locale or home preparation, Zamudio said.
La Juanita is the first establishment of its kind to date in the Mexican capital and takes its inspiration from Netherlands’ fabled coffee shops.
Only one other similar cannabis cafe exists nationwide, an establishment in the southeastern city of Merida that, according to La Juanita’s founders, has been very successful. EFE