Marijuana legalization may have accomplished what the War on Drugs has failed to do — put the squeeze on Mexican drug cartel activity.
The U.S. Border Patrol has released 2015 data showing that the number of marijuana seizures throughout the southwest U.S./Mexico border has fallen to the lowest level in a decade, theWashington Post reports.
Mexican manufacturers of illegal marijuana bricks have driven down prices as residents in California, Colorado, and Washington state now have safe access to reasonably affordable medical marijuana and/or recreational cannabis.
“Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90,” a Mexican marijuana grower told NPR news in December 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.”
The falling price is also compounded with the cartels’ pressure to grow better pot, as many Americans can now legally purchase highly potent strains at their local dispensaries.
“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,” the DEA wrote last year in its 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.”
Despite the good news, however, Mexican cartels are slowly beginning to offset the revenue lost to cannabis law reform by producing more heroin and methamphetamines.
“Those trying to understand what has happened with U.S. cannabis consumption and imports over the past decade need to pay close attention to licensed and unlicensed production in medical states, especially California,” said Beau Kilmer of the RAND Corporation to the Post.