Cancún, Tulum, and the rest of the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico are cracking down on tourist drug use this spring. As travelers from the United States and elsewhere continue to come en masse, some hotels are having people sign agreements that they know that it’s illegal to consume or transport drugs, and that there are consequences to doing so.

The publication Reportur documented the new initiative recently with insight from government and tourism officials. Zero-tolerance drug use or soliciting policies, as well as a note that there won’t be any refunds for people kicked out of their hotel for drugs, are becoming common.

“On the occasion of the next high vacation season, together with businessmen, we launched an outreach campaign to warn tourists about the risks and consequences of drug use during their stay in Quintana Roo,” Carlos Joaquín, the governor of Quintanoo Roo, tweeted on April 1.

Where tourists will have to sign drug law awareness documents

  • Cancún
  • Chetumal
  • Cozumel
  • Isla Mujeres
  • Mahahual
  • Puerto Morelos
  • Riviera Maya
  • Tulum

Drugs have become an increasingly large problem in the popular resort areas like Tulum (which, as one DJ recently showed, is attracting a very different type of person than before). Mexico was, and remains, a popular place for tourists looking for an escape from pandemic restrictions, as there are no testing or vaccine requirements. Already popular beach towns were flooded with visitors the past two years — and a demand for substances.

A December Washington Post story described how it’s common for tourists to request cocaine and other drugs from hotel staff. One tourist request inadvertently led to a cartel shooting that left two gang members dead near a Hyatt outside of Cancún last November. Another attack in October killed one German and one Indian tourist in Tulum, while a December attack in Cancún didn’t result in any deaths but did put fear into tourists’ hearts who were on the beach and saw gunmen approach on jet skis.

The drug trade was behind all of the above. And as easy as it would be to blame the state of drug trafficking in Mexico, it’s more of a demand problem than a supply problem. If there were no tourists seeking out drugs, there would be no cartel activity to supply said drugs.

A so-called Tourist Security Battalion was designed to make guests feel safer. The fact that there are at least six organizations — including the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel — competing to control drug sales in Quintana Roo, according to the Washington Post, doesn’t help.

As when visiting anywhere else, it’s important to follow local laws. It’s not only for your own safety, but for the overall safety in the area. After all, the more people who seek out drugs, the more one of Mexico’s most popular resort areas will be plagued by violence.