Mexico City police are turning a blind eye to pot smokers who light up in a cannabis garden called Plantón 420 located next to the Senate building in Luis Pasteur park.
Seeds planted in early February by pro-marijuana activists have grown into plants as tall as 2.65 meters at Plantón 420, which has become a veritable pot jungle. Activists continue to plant seedlings in pots and even in tennis shoes placed in front of signs calling for legal cultivation.
“Being able to smoke here (in the garden) in freedom is very important to me,” said barista Marco Flores. “I no longer go out on the streets in fear.”
Marijuana activists camp out at the site, where they cook, eat and garden together. They hold workshops on germination, growing techniques and the elaboration of products ranging from edibles to sexual lubricants. They also host lectures to raise awareness of the medicinal use of the plant and its derivatives.
The Supreme Court, which ruled that laws forbidding the use of marijuana are unconstitutional, has given lawmakers until December 15 to draft legalization legislation. Until then, pot smokers could face criminal charges for possession of amounts greater than five grams. Anything below that is legal.
The protest garden, run by Mexico’s Cannabis Movement, is open to visitors who are allowed inside to smoke for 30 minutes at a time while respecting social distancing. Buying and selling pot is forbidden, as is sharing a joint or pipe. Visitors are given a badge and a loudspeaker alerts them when their time is up. Nearly eight months after the garden began, Plantón 420 is popular enough that it appears on Google Maps.
“It’s great that they have opened a space for people who are open to new experiences, or who want to find out a little bit about this subject,” said pot smoker Carlos Díaz.
Cannabis activists like José Rivera view the garden as a teaching tool. “We want [Mexican lawmakers] to understand that we are smoking quietly and that we are not a risk to anyone,” he said. “Enough of the mistreatment.”
Leopoldo Rivera of the Mexican Cannabis Movement calls it the first non-clandestine pot plantation in Mexico in 100 years.
“Being a marijuana user does not make us criminals. Most of us work, pay taxes. We are just normal people who like marijuana, just like those who like football and who do not harm third parties,” Rivera said.
“Here we are firm in defense of the rights of all. We thank those who do not consume and who understand this fight. … (Legalization) is a fair demand so that no more human rights are violated and that the police stop being distracted by persecuting people who are mostly peaceful and productive.”
Three weeks ago pro-legalization Senator Jesusa Rodríguez took a marijuana plant with her to the Senate floor during a debate on legalization.
This week Interior Minister and former Supreme Court justice Olga Sánchez Cordero defended the recreational use of marijuana, which she considers a natural product with a low risk of addiction. “I am going to plant it in my garden,” she said.