If you’re an expat living in Mexico, an aspiring expat who wants to move here or a regular visitor, understanding how drug laws in Mexico may affect you is very important.
Most people use common sense when it comes to drugs in Mexico, whether legal or illegal or somewhere in between. While many people exercise good judgment, others may be mistaken on how Mexico treats the transportation, introduction and possession of certain drugs, both legal and illegal.
When you drive or fly into Mexico, you can get in trouble for bringing certain types of substances. Obviously, if you bring in marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crack or any other drug that would get you thrown in jail in most parts of the world, don´t expect a warmer welcome in Mexico. Expect very strict, harsh and draconian treatment.
Marijuana has been gaining popularity and has been decriminalized in some U.S. states for recreational and medicinal use. Mexico has no such provisions. If you are caught transporting any amount, whether it is a seed, cookie, candy or a bag, you risk going to jail for 10 years.
I had a client who was over 60, had an organ transplant, glaucoma and a host of other diseases and was caught with a baggie of marijuana for medical use. He spent five days in custody before I had all charges dropped. He had very little marijuana, but the amount doesn´t matter. The law is a public interest law so transporting one seed, a few drops of oil, a cookie or a ton is treated the same, and you will face federal drug trafficking charges.
After I got my client’s charges dropped, a lady called to tell me that her husband had been in a Mexican jail for six months after they found him with a marijuana cookie. He had already spent tens of thousands of dollars (unlike the U.S. where it would have been a $100 fine) to get out, but he remained in jail. A Mexican sports figure – another good example – was in the news when he came back from Colorado and left a cannabis candy in his pocket and was sent to jail.
If you have medical problems and are coming to Mexico, you should know that the Federal Prosecutor (PGR) has been giving some visitors a hard time. NEVER send medicines with another person nor accept them from anybody to bring. When you enter Mexico you should bring no more than a three-month supply and have a prescription and a doctor’s letter describing your treatment and the necessity and frequency for the medicine, especially so if they are controlled medicines like pain or anti-anxiety medicines.
In some states and provinces they have banned the sale of certain cold medicines or made them prescription-only. These over the counter medicines contain chemicals that are banned in Mexico, and people have reported being detained for having cold medicines because they contained banned ingredients that could be used to manufacture illegal drugs.
The best practice is, if possible, to buy cold medicines in Mexico and bring just small quantities of your prescription. Be sure to have all your documentation in order to prevent overzealous agents from sending you to jail because they are unaware of federal treaties or they feel that you may offer them something of value.