The Legalization of Marijuana in the US Deals a Blow to Mexican Drug Traffickers

  • Mexican growers and cartels are seeing their business decline due to the regulation of cannabis for medicinal use in some of their northern neighbour’s states

More than half of America's states have approved the medicinal use of marijuana, after its legalisation in Oregon and Alaska. American citizens can now buy marijuana in their own country, so they no longer need Mexican smugglers.

A few years ago Mexican growers were receiving 60 - 90 dollars for a kilo of marijuana. Those figures have dropped to 30 - 40 dollars. Farmers earn about 150 dollars per month, and must combine their work with other tasks, like collecting firewood - at least those who work for the Sinaloa cartel, which has lowered their pay in recent months.

A study by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute predicted two years ago that the cartels' profits would drop 22 - 30% if the USA took the path of legalization. And that forecast is proving accurate. 


Mexican marijuana, however, can still compete in terms of costs: American marijuana is three or four times more expensive, as it is 10-20% composed of THC (tetrahidrocannabinol), the plant's main psychoactive component.

DEA spokesman Lawrence Payne has explained that in Sinaloa, Mexico's most important agricultural state, the cartel headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán is apparently buying marijuana in Colorado to later sell it illegally to affluent customers in Mexico.

And, because they can no longer rely solely on cannabis, the cartels are diversifying their business. “I think that now that, due to the changes in the legalization of marijuana in the US, the cartel is pushing more cocaine, amphetamines and heroin,” indicates area journalist Javier Valdez.

Thus, the NGO the Mexican Cannabis Studies Association is calling for the legalisation and personal cultivation of cannabis as an alternative to drug trafficking - one way to stop these cartels from profiting and continuing to exploit farmers.


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