Curtailing cartel profits has been one of the most popular reasons for legalizing marijuana, and recent developments suggest that such policy reform has been a great success. As NPR reports, Mexican drug cartels are beginning to feel the hurt as more and more U.S. states legalize cannabis for medical and recreational purposes.
NPR interviewed 24-year-old Nabor, a marijuana grower in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa. Nabor, who declined to give his surname because his work is still highly illegal, explained: “Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] was worth $60 to $90. 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.”
As things currently stand, more than half of all U.S. states have legalized some form of access to medical marijuana, and four states — Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska — plus the District of Colombia have legalized recreational cannabis use. Additionally, as responsible markets develop locally and cannabis use continues to permeate pop culture globally, the desire for American-made cannabis has increased dramatically.
Though Nabor has been growing illegal cannabis since he was 14, he sees a time approaching when it won’t be a viable means of supporting himself or his family. “This is dangerous work to cultivate… and to sell [marijuana]. If the army comes, you have to run or they’ll grab you. Look here, we’re only getting $40 a kilo. The day we get $20 a kilo, it will get to the point that we just won’t plant marijuana anymore.”
Meanwhile, across the border, Lt. David Socha of the Austin Police Department’s narcotics section explains that he’s noticed a dramatic shift in the marijuana market. At one point, virtually all weed smoked in the U.S. was imported from Mexico — this, however, has changed. “We’re still seeing marijuana,” Socha said. “But it’s almost all the homegrown stuff here from the States and from Canada.”
NPR hasn’t been the only media group to report on the success of the legal marijuana industry. Last April, the Washington Post ran a story highlighting cartel actions that suggest they are falling off the cannabis drug trade and are investing more into heroin; additionally, VICE published an article in May that describes the steady decline of cartel-grown cannabis being found on the U.S. black market.
Photo Credit: MarihuanayMedicina
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