United States Marijuana Laws Are Starting To Weaken Cartels

Christopher Brown - Author

Dec. 31 2015, Updated 3:24 a.m. ET

Mexican drug cartel farmers are getting burned by the United State’s increasing leniency on Marijuana growth and distribution laws, according to the International Business Times. Farmers south of the border could go out of business if the United States keeps this up.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Mexican farmers used to get $100 per kilogram per crop. With it becoming more legal, the price has dropped exponentially to $30 per kilogram over the last the last four years. Naturally, with the risk of producing such an illegal product decreasing, the demand for illegal trafficking of the drug will decrease.

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The co-director of the Drug Policy Research Center at the Rand Corp, Beau Kilmer, states that since 2008, Mexico provided as much as two-thirds of the drug consumed in the United States each year. This leaves Mexican cartel farmers painfully aware of the decline and the effect it will have on their employment. Some of whom have been working since their adolescence.

“I’ve always liked this business, producing marijuana,” said a 50-year-old cartel farmer who has been in the industry since he was a teenager, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Many cartel farmers like him are expected to have similar stories since they are projected to lose their jobs to producers in the United States.

Despite recent changes on marijuana legislation in the United States, this trend actually started in 1996 when California became the first state to legalize growth for medical purposes. Since then, only 23 out of 50 states are allowed to grow pot, and a mere four states can use it for recreational purposes, according to Governing.com (Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon).

The actual production rate in Mexico is not entirely know by sources. However, the rate at which illegally produced product is being destroyed is on the incline as numbers show. The Mexican government plans to shut down 12,000 acres next year.

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United States Customs and Border Protection confiscated nearly 1,100 tons of pot at the border in 2014 alone. And over the past four years, they accumulated 1,500 tons. These numbers suggest that cartels are actually slowing down. The smaller seizure totals represent an even smaller fraction of weed that does get into the United States.

Another factor is the number of United States arrests made by federal agents. The number of arrests has nearly been cut in half from 4,519 in 2010 to 2,367 in 2014, according to the United States DEA. This also strongly suggests that cartel trafficking has decreased due to lack of product.

Another undercut against the Mexican cartel’s weed is the quality. Reportedly, the United States produces a higher quality weed.

Below is a quote from High Times writer “Danny Danko” via NPR.

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“Mexican marijuana is considered to be of poor quality generally because it’s grown in bulk, outdoors; it’s typically dried but not really cured, which is something we do here in the U.S. with connoisseur-quality cannabis,” he says. “And it’s also bricked up, meaning that it’s compressed, for sale and packaging and in order to get it over the border efficiently.”

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NPR reports that it is also derogatorily referred to as “Mexican-brick weed.” Mexican weed is noted to have a lower concentration of THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana), thus making for a less intense “high.”

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The cartel isn’t sitting idly by while the United States takes away their power. The cartels will now shift their focus to more illicit drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine, drugs that are likely to be illegal in the United States forever.

Heroin or “poppies” will also fill the void. Cultivating heroin requires more attention and requires more labor, but it may prove to be more beneficial to them if the United States continues to hurt their business.

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They also plan to produce their own high-end strain of pot to compete with growers in the United States as made evident in 2015.

“Law enforcement reporting indicates that Mexican cartels are attempting to produce higher-quality marijuana to keep up with U.S. demand for high-quality marijuana,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

The cartels may be slowing down, but the demand for illicit drugs and high-quality pot is still prominent in the United States. So far, the United States’ crippling of dangerous cartels seems to be effective.

But it raises the question as to how aggressively the cartels will challenge the United States by pushing for more illicit drugs over the border.

[Image via Pixabay]


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