By Emily Ledger
While everyone has heard stories about the extensive illegal networks that for years have brought drugs from Mexico into the US, in recent years, the most desirable products are reportedly those being smuggled in the opposite direction.
According to a recent report from the Washington Post, cannabis that is being legally grown and sold in California is fetching a high price across the border in Mexico. Californian cannabis is making up a “booming boutique market” across Mexico with Mexican dealers using the products’ imported label as a selling point.
The US government has spent decades and reportedly billions of dollars in ongoing attempts to tackle the importation of drugs – with cannabis often a major concern – from Mexico. Prior to state legalisation in the US, it was believed that much of the cannabis available from illicit sources was produced in Mexico.
However, the ongoing wave of cannabis reforms across the US has allowed the South Western state of California to commercialise the production of cannabis on an impressive scale – with many products being placed on shelves within walking distance of the US-Mexico border.
One cannabis dealer told the Washington post that probably 60% of the cannabis he sells in Mexico City now comes from California: “The demand here for American weed has exploded.
“It’s aspirational for many of my clients. They want to be seen smoking the best stuff, the stuff rappers brag about smoking.”
Mexico has been one of the world’s largest producers of illegal cannabis for years. However, many Mexicans, along with tourists and investors in other parts of the world, have been long awaiting the legalisation of cannabis production in the country.
Mexico’s Supreme Court has given hope to those awaiting reforms as this Summer it determined that the criminalisation of the cultivation of cannabis for personal use was unconstitutional.
Nonetheless, legislation that would permit the commercial production and distribution of cannabis has been slow moving, leaving the door open for smuggling from the US.
Seizures of US cannabis products have been on the rise over the last year, with Mexican customs agents regularly discovering both small and large amounts of legal American cannabis at the border.
In a recent statement, Mexico’s customs chief, Horacio Duarte Olivares commented on the rise of seizures and claimed that traffickers “are going to run into a wall, with a firm hand from customs.”
There are also concerns that the increasing demand for US-approved cannabis in Mexico could lead to a decline in Employment. Even Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has expressed concerns.
“What is going to happen to the regions where marijuana and poppies were planted?” he asked at a news conference during a visit to Sinaloa – “what are people going to live on?”
Reports show that California-grown cannabis significantly increases in value once it crosses the border into Mexico. As the Post reports, cannabis products valued at around $150 in the US can fetch up to $500 south of the border.
CBD and cannabis producers based in Mexico can only hope that the country’s cannabis legislation will hurry up and catch up with demand for high-quality, legal cannabis. Until then, California producers will maintain their advantage over smaller producers.