Tuesday, September 11, 2018
The traditional picture of the US-Mexico marijuana trade involves drug cartels bringing Mexican weed into the US. But according to a piece from San Diego's KPBS, Mexico’s Demand For Potent California Marijuana Creates Southbound Smuggling, the flow increasingly is going the other way.
California’s cultivation of marijuana has created an unprecedented phenomenon: southbound smuggling of the drug across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mexico’s demand for potent California strains is on the rise as Mexican drug cartels have mostly failed to make a competitive homegrown product.
“If you’re in Mexico, and you want the best marijuana out there, there’s only one place to get it,” said Matthew Shapiro, a San Diego-based attorney who specializes in marijuana. “There’s no such thing as high-quality Mexican weed.”
California’s initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use could further boost southbound smuggling, experts on both sides of the border told KPBS. It would make it easier for Tijuana residents with visas or dual citizenship to access California’s more potent strains — and bring it back to Mexico.
It’s illegal to move marijuana from the U.S. to Mexico, just as it’s illegal to move the drug from Mexico into the U.S. But it’s easier to smuggle southbound. At the San Ysidro Port of Entry, drivers can cross the border into Tijuana without ever stopping to speak with a Mexican official.
This shift in perception has become a motivating factor in the recent changes to Mexico's own drug laws, including a suggestion by a Mexican government official back in February that Mexico may consider legalization:
"Colorado, California and the other states that have legalized marijuana have in some ways put the U.S. in a really awkward position," said David Shirk, a Mexico security analyst and professor at the University of San Diego. "On one hand, we are telling our friends like Mexico we want you have to have a zero tolerance policy on illicit drugs while at the same time we have let the camel's nose under the tent when it comes to marijuana."
"There is a significant contradiction in current U.S. policy that Mexico and other countries will begin to use as a basis for modifying their own drug policies," Shirk said.
--Loren D. Elkins