The free market at work
The marijuana legalization brigade has made great strides in their efforts to legalize medical marijuana in a large number of states, and they only seem to fail (for the time being, anyway) when they go too far and push for too much as they did this year in Florida.
While seeing great success across this country, the progressive push for legal pot is having unintended consequences for Mexican pot farmers who are seeing their profits diminish as more states pass pot-friendly laws and the Obama administration refuses to close the border or enforce our nation’s existing laws regarding the growth and sale of marijuana when such laws “clash” with the new states’ laws.
The loosening of marijuana laws across much of the United States has increased competition from growers north of the border, apparently enough to drive down prices paid to Mexican farmers. Small-scale growers here in the state of Sinaloa, one of the country’s biggest production areas, said that over the last four years the amount they receive per kilogram has fallen from $100 to $30.
The price decline appears to have led to reduced marijuana production in Mexico and a drop in trafficking to the U.S., according to officials on both sides of the border and available data.
. . . . Though federal law still criminalizes production and possession, the U.S. Justice Department has backed off its enforcement efforts when they clash with state law.
The relaxed legal environment has upended the old business model.
“Changes on the other side of the border are making marijuana less profitable for organizations like the Cartel de Sinaloa,” said Antonio Mazzitelli, the representative in Mexico for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Although Mexico remains a major supplier of marijuana to the U.S., its market share is thought to have declined significantly. Alejandro Hope, a security and drug analyst in Mexico City, estimated that Mexican marijuana now accounts for less than a third of the total consumed in the U.S.
The LA Times highlights one man’s plight:
He started growing marijuana as a teenager and for four decades earned a modest living from his tiny plot tucked at the base of these rugged mountains of western Mexico.
He proudly shows off his illegal plants, waist-high and fragrant, strategically hidden from view by rows of corn and nearly ready to be harvested.
“I’ve always liked this business, producing marijuana,” the 50-year-old farmer said wistfully. He had decided that this season’s crop would be his last.
The reason: free-market economics.
This was always going to be a result of legal pot in the U. S., and as the legal marijuana movement grows beyond medical marijuana, Mexican pot farmers will continue to suffer the consequences that progressives probably never intended.
[Featured image via the LA Times]