Legalized Recreational and Medical Marijuana Impacting Mexican Cartels

As the legalized selling of medical marijuana in Illinois enters its fifth month, the program, along with many others like it around the country seems to be having an effect that infamous War on Drugs could not produce. According to reports from the United States Border Patrol and other sources, the increase in government-sanctioned marijuana being grown in the U.S. is starting to drive down prices and, in turn, profits of growers and drug cartels in Mexico.

Prices Being Slashed

As far back as late 2014, even before the Illinois pilot program got underway, small-time marijuana growers in Mexico were already discussing the drop in the value of their products. One grower indicated that in 2011 and 2012, a kilogram of marijuana could bring in $60 to $90 at wholesale prices. “But now they’re paying us $30 to $40 a kilo,” he said. “It’s a big difference.” Growers in Mexico—many of whom struggle to maintain a very modest lifestyle, unlike the Hollywood image of a drug trafficker—expressed concern that legalization in the U.S., either for medical and recreational purposes, would ultimately make their production unsustainable.

Border Patrol Seizures

In 2009, the U.S. Border Patrol reported the seizure of almost 4 million pounds of illegal marijuana along the U.S.-Mexico border. Since then, annual seizures have dropped significantly, down to just over 1.5 million pounds in 2015—the lowest number in at least a decade. Other federal agencies have even acknowledged that the direction of marijuana smuggling is showing signs of reversing, with greater amounts of higher-quality American-grown marijuana finding its way into Mexico.

Not All Legal Production

Although the legal use of marijuana is becoming more popular around the country, there is still concern over the continued illicit growth in the United States. California, for example, is that nation’s leading state for the production of sanctioned medical marijuana, but is also responsible for more than 60 percent of all illegal marijuana plants seized in the country. With the development of a robust medical marijuana market comes the probability that illicit production is increasing as well, so as to meet the demand of non-medical users who do not live in a state where recreational use is permitted.

Such is the case for residents of Illinois. Even as the state’s medical marijuana program continues to grow, those who are not registered participants could find themselves in big trouble for the possession or use of the drug. If you are facing charges of marijuana possession or any other related offense, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. We will review your case, including the details of your arrest and the evidence against, and will work with you to build a responsible, effective defense. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba.

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