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Mexican Drug Cartels Turning to Other Drug Crops Due to Cannabis Legalization

January 13, 2015

Since the legalization of cannabis throughout parts of the United States, we’ve already seen a marked effect on the Mexican cartels as they continue to lose money on cannabis, which used to be a major cash crop. The cannabis that used to flow directly up through the cartel circuitry has stalled as the price has dropped.

USA-grown, potent, lab-tested cannabis varieties are replacing the strains harvested by the bushel from Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountain range. As a result, cartel farmers have turned to opium poppies as their new cash crop, producing the sticky, black “tar” heroin as a dangerously cheap alternative for opiate addicts in the United States. Methamphetamine has also seen a resurgence, with an estimated 90% of meth in the U.S. being created in Mexico, according to Drug Enforcement Agency figures.

Cartels and consumers alike are turning away from the “brick weed,” so-called for the hard-packed bales that for years were consistently strapped to human drug mules and in the back of commercial trucks bound for the border. Thus, another reason meth and heroin are the drug of choice for cartels these days is because they are easier to transport and conceal in body cavities, truck tires, and even false compartments in the engine block or dashboard. Cartels have even begun spraying decoy vehicles with cannabis resin to attract the attention of drug-sniffing dogs and border agents, tying up resources while they sneak harder, more dangerous drugs across the border.

Meth and heroin are incredibly addictive and create a whole new problem for law enforcement, in addition to affecting already at-risk Americans. However, if border states such as Arizona were to legalize cannabis, border patrol agents would have one less concern and more time, energy, and resources to devote to the larger issue of illegal methamphetamine and heroin smuggling.

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