Looser U.S. Laws Are Hurting Mexico’s Marijuana Industry

December 30, 2015, 9:43 PM UTC
View of marijuan plants at a field, in L
View of marijuan plants at a field, in Los Algodones community, Culiacan, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 30, 2012. Mexican soldiers found a marijuana field and incinerated the drug as part of the Culiacan-Navolato operation. More than 40.000 people have been killed in rising drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon deployed soldiers and federal police to take on organized crime. AFP PHOTO/Alfredo Estrella (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/GettyImages)
Photograph by Alfredo Estrelloa — AFP via Getty Images

When drug laws in the U.S. get looser, it’s Mexican producers who reportedly suffer the consequences.

Since states have risen restrictions on marijuana, the demand for Mexican drugs has gone down significantly. The LA Times reports that in 2008 two-thirds of all marijuana consumed in the U.S. had been imported from Mexico, and now it’s less than one-third.

Mexicans are competing with Americans on both price and quality. High Times magazine writer Daniel Vinkovetsky told the Times that “Mexican marijuana is deemed lowest on the totem pole,” and since higher quality American product is now much more accessible, people are “[turning] their backs on imports.” The DEA has even seen a few cases of American pot being smuggled into Mexico.

“Even though it’s not really considered good business anymore,” a grower known only as Emilio told the Times, “there’s nothing else to do.”

In the last four years alone, the price per kilogram fell from $100 to just $30 in Sinaloa, which is Mexico’s biggest production state and where Emilio’s farm is located.

Cartels and growers alike now have to find something to fill the void left by this reduced demand. According to a DEA report, Mexican cartels are supposedly trying to compete with Americans with better quality marijuana.

The report adds that if cartels continue to get edged out of the marijuana market, they could turn to harder drugs.