If you’ve ever had a toke in the United States, you know marijuana is legal there. (For the most part) But what about on the other side of the border?
Yes, marijuana is now legal in Mexico for recreational use and medical and scientific purposes. In 2021, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of recreational marijuana was unconstitutional, paving the way for the legalization of cannabis for adult use. Under the new law, adults aged 18 and over are allowed to possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and grow up to six plants for personal use. The law also establishes a regulated cannabis market, with licensed businesses allowed to cultivate, process, distribute, and sell cannabis products. However, the implementation of the law is still ongoing, and it may take some time for the new regulations to be fully put in place.
What does all of this mean for you? We’ll walk through everything, so you have context when considering whether to break out those rolling papers or go back home. Here we’ll look at what’s south of the border, where marijuana isn’t just illegal but remains highly stigmatized.
Since laws keep changing rapidly, making things a bit confusing sometimes, check out our friends at DISA to see a complete map of every state. They have information on what is legal, medical use, recreational use, and everything else.
Marijuana Legalization Has Been Gaining Steam
The past few years haven’t seen massive changes to Mexican drug enforcement policies. President Enrique Peña Nieto took action against certain cartels during his six-year tenure. Still, he hasn’t done enough to stem violence and corruption within the government itself, which critics say continues unabated under current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Meanwhile, more than half of Mexicans support legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to polling data from Reforma last year.
Given this information, it seems unlikely that any meaningful reforms involving marijuana or anything else will happen anytime soon. So instead of waiting on the sidelines, why don’t you try getting your hands on some legal weed yourself? Here are a few options to consider.
What’s Not Allowed In Mexico?
Most states in Mexico allow for medicinal marijuana, while only three specifically outlaw the sale of recreational weed. That said, it’s important to note that recreational users may face fines and/or jail time, depending on their location. So, let’s start with the basics.
For example, suppose you live in Baja, California. In that case, you won’t want to light up because authorities recently passed legislation prohibiting public consumption of “any substance containing THC” (the active ingredient in cannabis), according to ABC News. However, if you live outside of major cities such as Monterrey, Nuevo León, Tijuana, or Acapulco, you might be able to partake in a bit of fun without breaking the rules.
That said, there’s no need to panic if you’re looking for a quick hit. You could always opt for edibles over smoked weed since they typically leave less harmful residue. Edible forms of marijuana also tend to produce slower highs, making them easier for beginners to handle.
Smoking marijuana usually leads to nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, coughing, and lung problems when inhaled into the lungs. In addition, it sometimes causes violent reactions when people attempt to hold it too long. Smoking joints tend to lead to similar symptoms, though inhalation provides far fewer health benefits than edible cannabis.
It’s worth noting that consuming cannabis in most parts of Mexico doesn’t necessarily carry negative consequences. For instance, it’s common practice among residents living near poppy fields in southern regions like Chiapas and Oaxaca.
They make sure to wash their mouths afterward with salty water. Similarly, one popular snack sold throughout central Mexico involves wrapping corn tortillas in a leafy green vegetable called jocote before covering them with cheese.
A lot depends on the type of criminal activity in your area and the specific laws pertaining to it. For example, if you’re caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you could end up facing hefty fines.
Of course, if you reside somewhere that bans selling or using marijuana, you’ll probably run into trouble trying to purchase or consume it.
However, that doesn’t mean you should give up hope entirely. There are plenty of ways to obtain quality weed without stepping foot inside a dispensary, especially if you live in places like San Diego or Los Angeles, which permit the cultivation of personal medical marijuana plants.
If you prefer finding deals online, check out websites like Weedmaps, Leafly, or Seedo, which offer reviews and ratings based on user feedback regarding different types of cannabis products.
You can also shop for cheaper alternatives to pricey street bud by joining subscription services like Bloom Farms’ Harvest Club plan ($79 per month) or Kush Queen’s delivery service (starting at $299 per quarter).
How Will This Change Things For Me?
Whether you partake recreationally or medicinally, the effects of cannabis aren’t immediately noticeable. Unlike alcohol, for example, pot doesn’t cause hangovers or dehydration. It takes several hours for cannabis to enter the bloodstream, meaning you can enjoy it whenever the mood strikes.
Once ingested, however, THC works quickly. Users often report feeling high within minutes of first puffing. These sensations vary widely between individuals and depend heavily upon factors like tolerance levels and frequency of use. Some users experience relaxation, euphoria, and heightened awareness of their surroundings. Others report hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, and sleep disruption.
While most people who use marijuana become accustomed to experiencing varying degrees of positive emotions, others may develop psychological issues related to excessive use. For example, long-term heavy consumers may eventually exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, paranoia, or psychosis. In addition, those who experiment with new substances early in life may suffer from addiction later in life.
Since marijuana affects everyone differently, it’s best to avoid becoming dependent on it to manage stress, improve productivity, or maintain focus. Instead, stick to smaller doses and keep tabs on your habits. Once you reach a point where you notice adverse physical or mental effects, moderate use should cease entirely.
There are many resources for helping you quit marijuana, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Weight Watchers, Big Brothers Big Sisters, CoDA meetings, and Marijuana Anonymous.
Will It Be Legalized Nationwide Soon?
Not likely. Even if marijuana becomes legalized in other areas of the country — such as Puebla state, which became the second-largest producer of cannabis flower in 2018 — federal prohibition means its distribution and sales remain restricted nationwide.
Until federal officials decide otherwise, expect to pay dearly for cannabis products wherever you visit. Depending on the region, prices range from $5 to $30 per gram. As reported earlier, prices vary significantly due to transportation costs, taxes, bribes, inflation, and scarcity of supply. Since demand outweighs production worldwide, black market dealers charge whatever local customers are willing to pay.
Even in states where marijuana is entirely legal, buying illicit goods carries serious risks. Last summer, two young men died after visiting a friend’s farm in Sonora state to pick tomatoes. Authorities believe cartel members planted a bomb underneath a vehicle carrying the pair, causing a deadly explosion. In addition, federal police found traces of explosive material used in roadside bombs and grenades hidden nearby. Two suspects believed responsible were arrested.
Federal forces continue to pursue known traffickers and suppliers of marijuana, opium poppies, heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, and crystal methamphetamine. According to El Universal, a recent raid conducted by federal agents resulted in the seizure of 4 tons of marijuana, dozens of assault rifles, machine guns, handguns, ammunition, explosives, vehicles, cash, and property belonging to narcotics syndicates.
Another bust carried significant implications for U.S.-based companies transporting or distributing cannabis. On May 13, 2017, federal authorities seized a shipment of 2,000 pounds of imported hashish bound for New York City. Officials described the haul as “one of the biggest seizures of hashish ever captured in South Florida and maybe in the entire Caribbean Region.”
According to CNN, the same day that news broke, DEA special agent David Gaider spoke to reporters about the bust, saying, “This amount, combined with the hundreds of thousands of dollars already recovered, brings us closer to dismantling [some] substantial organizations.” However, he added that “these groups move millions of dollars daily,” and “it’s hard to put a price tag on the damage caused by these organizations.”
Meanwhile, the latest statistics show that nearly 40,000 people die annually in road accidents in Mexico. Of those, 11,000 occur every year as a result of drunk drivers.
And yet, despite all of this, many experts argue that legalizing marijuana could help reduce crime rates and save countless lives.