Mexico City’s #Plantón420 has grown in size over the last week, probably because of all the cannabis-related political drama. Despite his party’s efforts to the contrary, President Andres Manuel López Obrador announced that recreational cannabis would not be legalized. But the day before our tardeada [afternoon party] at the protest camp, it was announced that a highly imperfect legalization plan had passed out of Mexican Senate committees.
Something to celebrate? Something to protest? Surely both, which was why I helped organize a dance moment at the plantón with my friend DJ Rosa Pistola. We figured music would get our social circles to connect with the semi-permanent protest camp that the coalition of Movimiento Cannábico Mexicano [Mexican Cannabis Movement] has set up in front of the Senate building, a not-so-subtle reminder to politicians that marijuana consumers and cultivators exist and are watching how all this legalization will play out.
Some of the MCM activists have been camping out in the shadow of the Senate for a month straight — fresh faces were appreciated at the protest camp.
“I hadn’t been in the plantón before and I liked being able to see the groups who came to protest for cannabis rights,” reflected Juan Fortis, a Mexico City DJ and stylist who came to the tardeada to dance and blaze.
Activism At The Plantón
Increasing the representation at the plantón was the point. A recent study by the Organization of American States found that two percent of Mexicans consume cannabis, which means that even when crowds swell at the protest camp on the weekends, senators are still only seeing a small percentage of the people to whom marijuana legalization is an important issue.
#Plantón420 has certainly put effort into making the spot a place for Mexico’s cannabis community to converge. On any day of the week you can find cultivation workshops, freestyle battles, political speechifying taking place. A small garden sprouts with marijuana seeds donated by volunteers — they’ve matured so much in the month that the protest camp has been in the plaza that someone managed to smoke a joint from a Senate-grown bud the other day.
Of course, if you’re growing weed for an epileptic child, or using it to alleviate symptoms of a health condition, you might not be able to make it out to the protest camp.
But those who can, should, and for the tardeada on Thursday, many did.
Thursday’s lineup was made up DJ Hotmale of Mexico City electronic music collective NAAFI; Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey, who in addition to being the author of a cannabis cookbook and part of CDMX’s Xula CBD brand delivered a fire dancehall and hip hop set; Mexican Jihad, another NAAFI DJ and co-founder of the Traición collective; and Phaedra, a DJ and booker who was a key component of the influential and recently-shuttered Terminal Social Club.
In the middle of the dance floor, a sign had been attached to a post declaring that 55 senators had yet to visit the protest camp parked directly in front of their place of employment. The sign gave the ones who have visited shoutouts; Senators Jesusa Rodríguez, Indira Kempis, Patricia Mercado, and Felix Sagrado Maosodonio.
“I hope that legalization becomes a way of taking power from the narcos, ending the violence against marijuana consumers and introducing a new era of responsible consumption,” reflected Fortis.
Will that happen if we keep turning up the volume on Mexican cannabis protests? After decades of Drug War, it seems like a distant possibility. But smoking blunts on the couch doesn’t seem like it’s doing much to advance cannabis public policy either, so we may as well keep dancing.