This weekend, for the first time, Vallarta joined hundreds of cities around the world in supporting legal cannabis by participating in the Global Marijuana March.
The Global Marijuana March, which began in 1999, took place this year on Saturday, May 5th in over 600 cities across the world. In Mexico, marches took place in CDMX, Mérida, Tijuana, Morelia, Monterrey, Mexicali, San Luis de Potosí, Toluca, Ecatepec, Guadalajara, and, of course, Puerto Vallarta. Marches varied widely in the number of participants. While Vallarta witnessed a gathering of about 40 individuals, in CDMX, supporters showed up in mass, with estimates of over 10,000 people.
Vallarta advocates, some wearing costumes and wrestling masks, gathered on Saturday afternoon at El Estadio Municipal. Bearing signs reading “¡Autocultiva Ya! (Personal Cultivation Now!)” and “Sembrando Educación (Planting Education)” they marched the Malecón to Plaza de Armas chanting “¡Legalización! ¡Legalización! (Legalize It! Legalize It!)” and “¡No Somos Criminales! (We Aren’t Criminals!)” Both Mexican nationals and resident foreigners took part.
“I’m proudly Vallartense and proudly a pro-cannabis woman,” says Zani M., a twenty year old carrying a sign that reads “Educación y Regulación.” “I participated in the march because I think marijuana activism generates an impact on people’s minds.”
Tessa Reed, a 39 year old native of Houston who lives in Puerto Vallarta, says, “I participated in the march because I want people in Mexico to know that there are dedicated supporters of cannabis here, and cannabis culture should be able to thrive here in Puerto Vallarta.”
Though the turn out in Vallarta was relatively small, the march was peaceful and supported by the city. David Alvarez, a 31 year old resident of Vallarta, says it was better than his experience at the first Marijuana March in Guadalajara in 2011. Guadalajara’s first march attracted just 22 people. The following year, thousands took part.
“[The Vallarta] march came together in five days or less, and the truth is, I liked it a lot. I was able to participate in the first March in Guadalajara and in Vallarta, and the truth is, we had more assistance and support from the authorities [in Vallarta].”
Vallarta police showed up in force but were friendly with the activists, even posing for pictures. In other cities, such as Mérida, there were reports of harassment. There, the police reportedly set up a bandstand and blared music to drown out the speeches.
Though pleased with how the first march in Vallarta played out, Alvarez says significant progress has yet to be made.
“From my point of view, we have a long way to go with legalization and personal cultivation. We still need to inform people about all the benefits this plant can offer, from textiles, foods, medicines, and extractions to recreational ends. There is a lot of taboo surrounding marijuana and a lot of people think it kills you, it makes you crazy, and it will make you rob people in the streets to keep up your habit, like in [the telenovela] Rosa de Guadalupe.”
Zani M. came away from the experience feeling more optimistic.
“I think the people responded positively,” she says. “Fortunately, Mexico allows a lot of room for natural medicine, so I think the response in the future will be even better.”