According to an updated Congressional report, demand for illicit marijuana from Mexico continues to drop since cannabis is legal in the U.S. and Canada. Apparently, the international drug trade is shifting as the legalization movement expands.
“Seizures of imported marijuana began to decline in 2019. Authorities are projecting a continued decline in U.S. demand for Mexican marijuana,” the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report said. “This is partially due to legalized medical and nonmedical/recreational cannabis in many U.S. states and Canada, reducing its value as part of Mexican trafficking organizations’ portfolio. Mexico’s Congress is continuing to consider legislation to legalize adult use of cannabis.”
The report stated that a shift in the drug supply is underway, especially in terms of synthetic drugs displacing heroin and cocaine. Although its implications remain unclear. “Some analysts are exploring why violence has continued to rise in rural areas as Mexico’s drug trade moves away from plant-based drugs (e.g., marijuana and opium poppy) to laboratory-made synthetics, with less need to control farmers and land,” the report reads.
Cannabis Trafficking Is Changing
Only a decade ago, Mexico was smuggling a significant amount of the marijuana consumed by Americans, according to the DEA. Now it appears as though marijuana smuggling into the United States is decreasing, while Mexico is seeing an increase of American-made pot entering its side of the border.
The DEA released a report on April 2022, stating that, “in U.S. markets, Mexican marijuana has largely been supplanted by domestic-produced marijuana.” This is a major shift from the days when the vast majority of marijuana was coming into the United States from Mexico.
The report, titled “FY 2023 Performance Budget Congressional Budget Submission,” did, however, say that Mexico is still the main foreign supplier of U.S. marijuana. The report did not go so far as to attribute this decrease in illegal drug trafficking to legalization efforts in many U.S. states. Instead, it stated that “The national landscape continues to evolve as states enact voter referendums and legislation regarding the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana and its associated products.”
While the DEA did not outright attribute recreational marijuana legalization to the decrease in trafficked weed over the U.S. border, there is certainly a connection to be made.
According to a 2018, Cato Institute report on this exact subject, “State marijuana legalization starting in 2014 did more to reduce marijuana smuggling than the doubling of Border Patrol agents or the construction of hundreds of miles of border fencing did from 2003 to 2009.”
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