¡Ask a Mexican! on Mexican Marijuana Songs, Medicine, and Cheech and Chong?

DEAR MEXICAN: Los Marijuanos played at Seattle Hempfest years ago. Are they the best pro-hemp Mexican band out there? Are there other Mexican hemp-related bands or products I don’t know about?

Inquring Hempsters Want to Know!

DEAR GABACHO: Remember the movie Platoon, in which the troops were broken up between the “heads”—those who enjoyed the ganga while singing along to “The Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles—and the angry drunks who were known as “juicers”? The Mexican is definitely the latter—I’m like the old men in the rancho who drink 180-proof sugarcane alcohol and can’t be bothered with herb, so my knowledge of products is limited to whatever my home newspaper plugs on potplus.com. That said, #respect to those of ustedes who do smoke—Mexican musicians have been on that bit long before “Reefer Man.” “La Cucaracha” has a line about how former President Victoriano Huerta could no longer walk because he lacked marijuana pa’ fumar (to smoke). “El Tírili” (“The Reefer Man”) by Don Tosti’s Pachuco Boogie Boys warns people about the dangers of beer, wine and tequila. But el zacatito? The grass? “Ayyyy,” Tosti sighs, before scatting so furiously he makes Cab Calloway seem as restrained as Paul Robeson. But the best Mexican musical marijuana masterpiece is “Marihuana Boogie” by the legendary Lalo Guerrero, who combined the best of Benny Goodman and Cypress Hill to sing about the pleasure of getting lit while dancing your nalgas off. Too bad narcocorridos don’t have as much grace. . . .

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DEAR MEXICAN: Do you think legalizing marijuana in Mexico would be a good way to create jobs and better the economy?

Chapo Chupa

DEAR POCHO: Mexico just legalized medicinal marijuana nationwide, which will come as news to the abuelitas who have used marijuana-infused alcohol to treat sore joints and muscles for centuries. While the Mexican is for the decriminalization of all drugs everywhere, any economy created by Mexico making marijuana a legal industry will become subservient to the real marijuanos: Americans. And we all know how well NAFTA worked out for Mexico.

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DEAR MEXICAN: I’ve heard that marijuana is a made-up name for smokeable cannabis. It comes from Maria and Juan. This pejorative term was concocted in the 1930s to stigmatize pot smoking with Mexicans in the Southwest. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, there was a surplus of labor in America, and attempts were made to arrest Mexicans for their smoking habits and deport them. Any truth to this?

Etymology Edna

DEAR GABACHA: Only that there was a Great Depression. No one—not even the Real Academia Española—knows the etymology of “marijuana,” though it’s found in Mexican newspapers going back to the 19th century. Marijuana use in the United States has always been racialized, but gabachos have also stuck the demon weed to Filipinos, blacks and “Hindoos.” As with most illicit, wonderful things, marijuana only became acceptable when white people began using it. I’d end with a joke, but my marijuana humor begins and ends with a line from a Cheech and Chong movie: “Hey, that’s a pretty nice car, man. Better get it back to the circus before they find out it’s gone.” Um, yeah . . .

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