Stiff competition from thousands of mom-and-pop marijuana farmers in the U.S. threatens the bottom line for powerful Mexican drug organizations in a way that decades of arrests and seizures have not, reports the Washington Post. Illicit U.S. pot production has been increasing for decades. Recent state changes that allow use and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes are giving U.S. growers a competitive advantage, challenging the dominance of Mexican traffickers, who once made brands such as Acapulco Gold the standard for quality.
Almost all of marijuana consumed in the multibillion-dollar U.S. market once came from Mexico or Colombia. Now as much as half is produced domestically, often by small-scale operators who painstakingly tend greenhouses and indoor gardens to produce the more potent, and expensive, product that consumers now demand. The shifting economics of the marijuana trade have broad implications for Mexico’s war against the drug cartels, suggesting that market forces can extract a heavy price from criminal organizations that have used the profits generated by pot sales to fuel the violence and corruption that plague Mexico. More than 60 percent of the cartels’ revenue — $8.6 billion of $13.8 billion in 2006 — came from U.S. marijuana sales, says the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.