Freedom Leaf Travel: Welcome to Baja California
Cheri Sicard May 23, 2018
It’s just 17 miles from San Diego to where Mexico begins and two hours from Long Beach, where I used to live. Last year, I moved to Ensenada in Baja California, which is on the Pacific Ocean about two hours (70 miles) south of the border...
...misconception is that Mexico has legalized medical marijuana and will likely legalize adult use soon. In actuality, last June, Mexico legalized “pharmacological derivatives of cannabis” to be regulated and studied by the Ministry of Health. Those products must contain less than 1% THC. Actual plant matter is not allowed.
Three-quarters of the citizens in this heavily Catholic country support medical marijuana, but as far as recreational use, Mexico still has a long way to go. A 2015 poll showed 73% of Mexicans oppose legalizing marijuana, but also that year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of home growing, though that has yet to legally happen. Possession of small amounts of various drugs for personal use was decriminalized in 2009; for marijuana, that’s less than five grams.
Still, cannabis remains deeply ingrained in the public consciousness as a catalyst for the drug-cartel violence that’s devastated the country for decades. Mexico had 25,340 homicides in 2017, while the U.S., with more than twice as many people, had 17,250 in 2016. The fact that the cartels have drastically reduced their cannabis production due to competition from U.S.-grown pot, however, seems lost on casual observers.
Baja California Travel Advisory
The latest State Department travel advisories for Mexico, published in January, recommended “Do Not Travel” to five of Mexico’s 32 states (Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas) and “Reconsider Travel” to another 11. Baja California is listed as Level 2 (“Exercise Increased Caution”). The warning for Baja reads:
“Criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain an issue throughout the state… The state experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to the same period in 2016. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents.
“Due to poor cellular service and hazardous road conditions, U.S. government employees are only allowed to travel on La Rumorosa between Mexicali and Tijuana on the toll road during the day. There are no U.S. government restrictions in tourist areas, which include Ensenada, Rosarito and Tijuana.”