In Mexico, a city ordered its police to let everyone smoke weed and not just for the 420
The Oaxaca City Council has ordered the police to end an allegedly common practice of harassing cannabis users who smoked in public.
Under the gaze of heavily armed police, activists handed out slices of the cake along with copies of a recent letter from local authorities, the first of its kind in Mexico, giving the go-ahead for public marijuana use. On April 20, at 16:20 p.m., around 300 people lit their joints before enjoying the attention-grabbing cake.
What's remarkable about this scene isn't so much the celebration of 4/20. It is that the same acts are now legal in Oaxaca de Juárez, capital of the State of Oaxaca, on April 21, April 22 and all the following days.
Days before April 20, against an almost surreal backdrop typical of life in Mexico, the Oaxaca city council ordered police to end a supposedly commonplace practice of harassing cannabis users smoking in public. In a letter of comfort (i.e. a statement of municipal policy), the council paid tribute to the peaceful campaign of the militant group Plantón 4:20 to "defend their rights".
This innovative municipal policy was not adopted after the passage of a new law or decree, but simply reflects the acceptance by the municipality that there is no local law to prevent public consumption. of cannabis in a country where possession of up to 5 grams has been legal since 2009.
Oaxaca City has become the first city in Mexico, historic crucible of the global war on drugs, to explicitly allow the use of cannabis in broad daylight.
The city's letter included a warning to consumers to express their newfound freedom with consideration for those around them.
“No municipal regulations expressly prohibit the responsible personal use of cannabis in public spaces,” the letter states. “A call is made to consumers to avoid consuming cannabis in places where there are children or where other people explicitly disagree. The municipal authority urges the municipal police to refrain from causing inconvenience to consumers and not to ask consumers to move on unless they smoke near children or people who are adamantly opposed to it .
However, federal legalization is still progressing, slowly. Congress is still expected to legalize later this year after court judgments effectively mandate it to act. These court decisions are pushing lawmakers to act, despite the hesitation of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The last stand of the president on the issue dates back to last summer, when he floated the idea of a national referendum on legalization, for which he says there is no consensus.
“We are happy and we will behave responsibly”
His warnings came between shouts of celebration at the microphone, as other speakers took turns gently taunting the groups of cops carrying machine guns drinking sodas and leaning on nearby armored vehicles.
A new way to push decriminalization
The promising response from leaders in the city of Oaxaca could lead to the trial of similar tactics in other cities in Mexico.
Oaxaca shows that decriminalizing public cannabis use is possible, even without changing the law, a declared Jorge Hernández Tinajero, president of the Mexican Association for Cannabis Studies. A little political will and a few directives to the police and public prosecutors are enough to prevent users from being falsely labeled as dealers and their arrest being used by the police to simulate a fight against drug trafficking which, in fact, is generally only carried out against the most vulnerable.