The stress of crossing international borders with federally illegal substances is enough to make anyone stuff their face full of pot biscuits, right?
Well, that and the five-hour flight.
Avoiding my mother’s disapproving glances at my red eyes and giggling, I patiently waited to board our red-eye flight to our motherland: Mexico.
The penalty for cannabis possession in Mexico is jail time, and the consequences can be worse if someone is arrested at an airport. Cannabis is such a part of my daily routine here at home, from waking up and baking to cheer me up and rolling my day to going to bed to help me sleep easily. I knew my intake would decrease while I was away from San Francisco, but getting relief from all the expected triggers and keeping a semi-regular sleep cycle while I was away was enough to avoid the risks.
But for the sake of discretion, I kept the flowers and dabs at home. Before my trip, I carried a range of discreet edibles such as muesli, hash capsules, hard candies, and topical creams.
The town where our family lives is about a four hour drive from the airport in Guadalajara, Jalisco state. We drove northeast to the small town in the neighboring state of Zacatecas, a beautiful state full of desert valleys and limestone towns.
During the ride, I thought about how I would ration my meds for the next 10 days.
I’ve actually never bought weed in Mexico, despite being told I can get “the good stuff” here. From what I’ve seen, the poorly groomed, grass-smelling, dry excuse for weed would give me more of a headache than a high.
I’m lucky enough to have a politically radical stoner cousin who manages to get herbs without backing the Narco Traficantes, as most of his friends grow their own weed or know a breeder personally. I thought about maybe asking my cousin to pick up a bag for me, but in the end I decided against it – thinking I couldn’t get away with real smoking after all.
The purpose of our trip to Mexico was not the happiest reason. My aunt was seriously ill and bedridden and we were there to help, not to party. Still, my brother and cousins and I have been known to share a joint and talk through our grief. I knew it was important for me to do the same while I was away, but in a more discreet way.
In California, I medicate six to ten times a day, usually with a good shot of hashish or a solid bong topped with kief. But despite the stress, I find that I need much less medication when I’m in Mexico. Without a real schedule to follow, with the more relaxed attitude of the people of Mexico, and no one to hang out with except my mother, I am much less stressed or anxious all day long.
So I decided my plan was to take medication in the morning at a dose of at least 50mg-75mg – hoping that the slow acting hash pills would last longer during the day – and take a 30mg dose in the evening. – 40mg would eat from a faster acting snack to help me fall asleep.
As for the topical cream I brought, it ended up being used by someone who needed it significantly more than I did.
My ailing aunt had been living with rheumatoid arthritis for over 20 years. She lost her husband at a young age and her body manifested her pain physically by accelerating the onset of her arthritis. This left nearly all of her joints disfigured, making it difficult for her to walk, go to the bathroom, get dressed, and wash herself.
Despite her constant pain, she never let her disability stop her from caring for her mother and great-aunts in their own times of illness. It never hindered her happiness either – just seeing us tormented by her condition upset her.
In the last few weeks before she died, she begged her sons to take her out. She loved parties and she loved being around people – she even showed an interest in smoking a joint! Her sons wouldn’t allow it, but they did accept the medicated cream I offered. Her joint damage and bedsores were so advanced that I’m not even sure if she experienced any relief with the relatively mild topicals I brought with me, even if they were CBD rich. It just didn’t feel right not to offer what I had.
I left that trip feeling disappointed. Not just because I knew I would never see my aunt again, but because I know that if she had access to medical marijuana, she might have found a better quality of life. She may have found peace in the passing of her husband, she may have found alternatives for pain relief and perhaps even the actual healing of her damaged joints.
But in a country like Mexico, where drug violence is real and stereotypes are perpetuated, I can understand why it’s hard to want to see the good in this factory.
My journey home was long and lonely as my mother stayed a few extra days with my brother who flew in to join her. So with the company of my medicinal, chocolate-coated espresso beans, I embarked on the journey home, with the intention of raising awareness of the benefits of marijuana in the Latin community, starting with my family—then connecting with the older generation of Latinos living in the states, and then hopefully their home country.
I’m still working on that part.