420 friendly protest zones for cannabis legalization are popping up across Mexico

Plantón 420 protest camp in front of the Mexican Senate, 2019 (Photo by Caitlin Donohue)

In Mexico, protest camps have emerged as one of the preferred methods of promoting the urgent struggle for the rights of marijuana consumers. As the legislative process behind cannabis legalization drags on, “tolerance zones” established by cannabis activists are popping up across the country, inviting cannabis users to consume locally in the name of federal legalization.

The latest, reports La Dose magazine, is in the heart of Mexico City.

The new camp is located in the Plaza of Information, just outside the CDMX Hidalgo metro station in downtown Centro Histórico. In contrast to the one-year-old Plantón 420 around the clock – the prototype of the national movement for weed protest camps, which is located in front of the country’s Senate building – the Metro Hidalgo camp known as Laboratorio 4:20 (Laboratorio 4:20) is only ready for use during the day.

An organizer identified as Abraham told La Dose: “The idea came from various collectives and people involved in the cannabis movement with the intention of creating more smoking spaces where a decriminalization can exist that actually guarantees our rights. ”

Personal possession of small amounts of all drugs was decriminalized in Mexico in 2009. However, these laws have done little to stop the blackmailing of the country’s consumers by law enforcement agencies, who often plant more drugs than the allowable amount of people in order to collect bribes.

Laboratorio 4:20 organizers attempted to set up a residential camp modeled after the settlement near the Senate, with workshop space, a communal kitchen, and an expansive cannabis jungle that gives passers-by an educational perspective on marijuana cultivation.

However, police reportedly prevented the camp from opening a business around the clock.

“A few days ago around noon the police came and took tents, signed petitions, camaras, an original copy of official documents, copies, tables, material with information about the Plantón, backpacks and a lot of things,” said Abraham.

Plantón 420 managed to establish a semi-permanent presence in the Senate’s Plaza Louis Pasteur, and activists in Puebla maintained a Plantón for several months. But other Mexican cannabis protest camps have not been so lucky. A team of activists in Monterrey saw their efforts suppressed by police, who are not enthusiastic, including recognizing the camps’ establishment of cannabis-using “tolerance zones”.

For many Mexican cannabis activists, setting camps in the most populous parts of their city is one of the best ways to spread awareness about the drug – and keep up pressure on politicians who seem to have lost the will to regulate the legalization of cannabis.

“It is important to me that there be such spaces that encourage legalization because we marijuana users are not criminals,” Haziel, a 25-year-old Laboratorio 4:20 activist, told La Dose. Haziel claims that after police smoked her weeds in the city’s vast Chapultepec Park, officers taped an ounce of cannabis on her and faced a six-year prison sentence.

At the moment the organizers of Laboratorio 4:20 have managed to keep the camp in the city center open daily from 3pm to 10pm. They will try to plant real cannabis plants in the Plaza of Information Gardens and hope to offer information workshops to the public in the room.

For more information on Laboratorio 4:20 and the live broadcasts recorded by the organizers, please visit the protest camp’s Facebook page.

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