Legal cannabis might be accomplishing one thing that a drug war that has lasted for decades could not; reduce the Mexican drug cartel’s profits. The most recent information released by the U.S. Border Patrol indicates that in 2015, cannabis seizures along the Southwest border dropped to their lowest point in the last ten years. Agents compiled up to 1.5 million pounds of pot at the border, significantly lower than a high of almost 4 million pounds in 2009.
The data confirms the various stories about the hardships that cannabis cultivators in Mexico have been facing thanks to the increasing supply in the United States. As domestic cannabis production has spiked in places like California, Colorado, and Washington, cannabis prices have dropped.
“Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90,” a Mexican cannabis cultivator reported at the end of 2014. “But now they’re paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It’s a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they’ll run us into the ground.”
Not only has price become an issue for farmers in Mexico, but quality has as well. “The quality of marijuana produced in Mexico and the Caribbean is thought to be inferior to the marijuana produced domestically in the United States or in Canada,” according to the DEA’s 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment. “Law enforcement reporting indicates that Mexican cartels are attempting to produce higher-quality marijuana to keep up with U.S. demand.”
If the fall in border seizures is not enough proof, Mexican farmers are having a very hard time trying to keep up with domestic production. Some federal authorities are even beginning to accept this as the true. In fact, Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, reported to the Senate committee that “given the increase in marijuana use among the American population, this suggests that people using marijuana in the United States may be increasingly obtaining marijuana from domestic sources.”
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