Marcha Mundial de la Marihuana Montevideo: A Day on the Green

Every year on the first Saturday of May, people in cities around the world gather to celebrate cannabis culture in what is known as the Global Marijuana March (GMM). We've never attended an event before, but this year we found ourselves in Montevideo and thought it would be interesting to check it out.

I've never been to any kind of march and wasn't sure what to expect. Uruguay has some of the most liberal marijuana laws in the world with no penalties for the possession and use of "personal" amounts. So we didn't see any need for people to protest or demand anything of the government.

GMM events don't follow any standard format. They can be a march, meeting, festival or concert. The plan for this event seemed to be a free concert in the Parque Rodo. We arrived at the start time of 3 pm and hung out. Over the next three hours the park filled with people. We couldn't tell who among the crowd was actually there for the "march" or just happened to be enjoying a beautiful weekend afternoon in the park. In fact, aside from the small stage set up at one end and a few people selling t-shirts and jewellery, it was difficult to tell that there was an organized event happening at all.

Except, of course, by the smells. People everywhere were lighting up in public on a Saturday afternoon, waiting patiently for the live music to begin. A guy came up to our group with pamphlets and asked for a donation to the cause. It turns out that a primary objective of the event was to encourage the legalization of growing cannabis at home for personal use. If everyone grows their own marijuana then there is no need for drug trafficking and the problems that come with trade of the substance. This is a popular practice in Uruguay and neighbouring Argentina, which has decriminalized possession of personal amounts of marijuana and has a well-organized cannabis community.

We'd never seen anything like this before, especially coming from countries where it would never be acceptable to enjoy a little pot in public. By the time the first band started playing at six o'clock, everyone in the park seemed nice and relaxed. It was intriguing to also see families at the event. We finished our bottles of beer (which everybody was also enjoying out in the open) and left at sundown with a sense of amusement. Countries often surprise us when we visit. The liberal laws and relaxed, friendly people of Uruguay are just a couple of the things we love about the country. We definitely hope to return someday.

What is something that has surprised you about a country while travelling?

 

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23 Comments on "Marcha Mundial de la Marihuana Montevideo: A Day on the Green"

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Katrina
I know your point wasn’t to argue in for or against anything, but I believe this is yet another bit of evidence in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. It’s not my thing, but then neither is beer, and that messes with your faculties just as much (more than, or less than, in some cases). Really, our bodies belong to us. We should have the freedom to ingest what we want. In any case, the more I learn about this so called “war” on drugs, the more I’ve come to see how much harm it’s done.  As many governments get more restrictive, it’s… Read more »
Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

I completely agree with you, Katrina =) We saw some examples of this in South America.

Pablo
Hello Andrea, I’m a photographer from uruguay and found this article looking for info about the marchs in my country… i like it! 🙂 It was a very nice day indeed, i went with my girl and my baby (she’s 4 months old :), there were about 5000 people that day, we were there all afternoon listen to music and hanging out with friends.  I was working on this cause since 2007 with many other people to promote self growing cannabis so we can avoid narcotraffic, which could lead you to be robbed, injuried, get arrested, got ill (some pot has… Read more »
Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

Hi Pablo – thanks so much for your comment and for sharing these sites with us and our readers. It’s great that you’re working for such a good cause – we really enjoyed Uruguay and hope to come back someday =)

Robin

Sounds like fun. I can never figure out drug laws – they seem irredeemably stupid to me… 

Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

Don’t get me started on that, haha…

Scott - Quirky Travel Guy

Sounds cool, I’d never heard of these events. Personal growing sounds fine, I support anything that would result in the decline of drug trafficking.

Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

We hadn’t heard of them until this year either, Scott. Saw an ad and thought we’d check it out. Completely agree with you – from what we understand, a lot of it comes into Argentina from Paraguay. I don’t know the specific details of who is affected by this but I’m sure homegrown is better.

Mel

 One of the greatest things I love about travelling is that you stumble across things you never heard about before and get the chance for new experiences.  Great write up.

Mel

Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

Thanks, Mel! We love that too =)

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