Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations’ New Marijuana StrategiesPosted by On

In 2010, the RAND Corporation said it was “noncontroversial” to declare that at least 50 percent of the marijuana consumed in the United States was produced in Mexico. At the time, there were but 11 states that had granted some legal access to marijuana, and by all indications, Mexico’s production was booming. In 2009, US authorities along the southwest border seized some 1.5 million kilograms of marijuana, up from about one million kilograms in 2005. Even so, RAND could see the tide was shifting and predicted, correctly it seems, that the coming legalization of marijuana in states like California would significantly cut into Mexican DTO’s earnings. 

RAND’s argument was based on two key factors: potency and price. In terms of potency, RAND said, US legal marijuana was about 300 percent more potent on average than Mexican-produced marijuana. And while the price point for this marijuana was as much as 50 percent higher, the potency more than made up for this difference. Even if legalization was restricted to California, RAND said, its impact on Mexican criminal organization’s market share would be significant. “We believe that legalizing marijuana in California would effectively eliminate Mexican DTOs’ revenues from supplying Mexican-grown marijuana to the California market,” RAND researchers wrote, limiting their prediction to the state they’d chosen to study but with obvious implications beyond. 

*This article is the last in a four-part…

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