Procannabis policies across America are achieving one key objective of legalization: drawing consumers away from the illicit market and reducing illegal sales. According to a report from Congressional researchers, cannabis legalization in America and Canada has dampened the demand for illegal cannabis from Mexico.
The report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) is an updated version of one released in 2020 and contains fairly consistent language with the 2020 version. Like the 2020 report, it shows how cannabis reform and legalization have affected the international drug trade.
Analysis from the CRS showed that U.S. seizures of smuggled cannabis started to drop back in 2019. Furthermore, the report stated that authorities predict American demand for Mexican marijuana will continue decreasing, partly due to demand for other illicit synthetic drugs.
The Congressional Research Service wrote in both the 2020 and the recent version that the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis in dozens of U.S. states and Canada had reduced the drug’s value to trafficking organizations. The 2022 version adds that steps taken by Mexican authorities to legalize cannabis have further reduced its value as an illicit commodity. In June 2021, Mexican lawmakers passed a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in the country.
However, the report noted that drug violence in Mexico still persists even as drug cartels ditch plant-based drugs such as opium and cannabis and move to synthetic drugs. Several agencies and institutions have confirmed that pro-cannabis policies are stifling drug cartels from Mexico.
For example, in its fiscal year 2023 performance budget summary, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) acknowledged that increasing domestic marijuana production dampened cannabis smuggling from Mexico. The DEA specifically stated that domestic-produced cannabis had largely supplanted Mexican cannabis even though Mexico remained a major foreign marijuana supplier. The agency also discussed shifting trends in marijuana production and in-house efforts to boost long-neglected marijuana research.
A 2018 study by the Cato Institute concluded that America’s growing state-legal cannabis industry had significantly undercut marijuana smuggling. Border Patrol seizure data showed that smuggling had dropped by an estimated 70% in five years. Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) shows that the number of local cannabis-related arrests has also been on a decline for the first time in four years.
There are fewer marijuana-related prosecutions as well, with a recent U.S. Sentencing Commission (USCC) report revealing that less than 1,000 people were charged with cannabis trafficking offenses in 2021, and in 2020, the cases numbered 1,118.
It is interesting to observe that today, legally produced cannabis products from entities such as American Cannabis Partners are proving to be a big help in reducing the work of various law enforcement agencies charged with preventing marijuana from Mexico from getting onto U.S. streets. This is an intriguing development given the negative attitude that law enforcement regards marijuana, whether locally sourced or imported.
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