Dirt flew through the air in front of the country’s Senate building in Mexico City. On Sunday, cannabis activists set up camp in full view of their elected officials to remind them of their responsibility to legalize the drug — and they brought their plants along with them.

Mexican marijuana activists have been performing even more daring acts of civil disobedience as a legal deadline approaches to legalize recreational cannabis. Several times, they’ve planted seedlings at one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, the Ángel de Independencia. 

But by installing a semi-permanent camp in front of the country’s Senate, they have taken the fight to the next level. 

Caitlin Donohue

After setting up their tents, one of the activists’ first steps was to accommodate donated cannabis seeds and seedlings in the plaza’s garden plots. What they billed as the country’s first non-clandestine cannabis garden in nearly 100 years of prohibition is intended to serve as an educational tool for the passers-by on one of Mexico City’s busiest pedestrian intersections.

Their temporary community is dubbed Plantón 420, “plantón” being the word for a kind of semi-permanent camp-in that is a popular Latin American protest technique. Blocks away from the weed activists’ set-up is the years-old plantón of the parents of the 41 students who were arrested and disappeared in the town of Ayotzinapa in 2014. 

Plantón 420 occupies a small plaza on Avenida Insurgentes and Paseo de la Reforma, directly in front of the country’s Senate. The plan is to hold the space until recreational cannabis is legalized. 

Mexican Pot Activists Invite All to a Semi-Permanent Action in Front of the Senate
Caitlin Donohue

The new residents have proclaimed that the area is a cannabis consumption “tolerance zone,” and are encouraging the general public to come spend time at the Plantón — and to bring their weed.

“We are a social group who is discriminated against, and we cannot remain hidden from the law,” says activist Pier Hernández, a psychology student who has been camping at the site since Tuesday. “I want to proclaim my protest against the appropriation of cannabis by the pharmaceutical companies. I want the cannabis to be for my people.”

Cannabis Activism in Mexico

Many cannabis activists have been dismayed at early drafts of legalization legislation, which they say fail to recognize the constitutional rights afforded by the Supreme Court. 

Some of the bills that have been proposed by members of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Morena Party include obligatory permits to use marijuana, a government monopoly on cultivation, and harsh limits on the number of plants allowed for personal cultivation. 

Public programming at Plantón 420 will be taking place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-7 p.m., including live music and workshops on cannabis history, user rights, and cultivation techniques. 

Activist Enrique Espinosa works with the Movimiento Cannábico Mexicano [Mexican Cannabis Movement] is the plantón’s director of programming. “We’d like to extend a cordial invitation with #venirafumaresayudar [a hashtag now associated with the camp that translates to “coming by to smoke helps”],” he told High Times. 

Mexican Pot Activists Invite All to a Semi-Permanent Action in Front of the Senate
Caitlin Donohue

“The public now has a space to smoke without being stigmatized, detained, or criminalized. Those who don’t consume marijuana are invited to come inform themselves, and to leave behind the stigmatization of cannabis users and this noble plant.”

Anti-cannabis stigma still runs high in Mexico, where drug war violence has claimed untold lives. But the country’s weed activists hope that the plantón will help to show the general public that marijuana is nothing to be afraid of — indeed, that it’s their right to be able to grow and consume the plant. 

And they hope that the Mexican lawmakers who work in the building behind them will keep that mind when they finally lay down legalization. 

“We want to make it clear that human rights don’t require a license,” says Hernández.

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