National Drug Intelligence Center
Domestic Cannabis Cultivation Assessment 2009
Primary Foreign Source Countries for Marijuana
Domestic marijuana production appears to be at the highest recorded levels; however, production in neighboring Mexico and Canada also supplies much of the demand for marijuana in the United States. Although no reliable estimates exist regarding the amount of foreign-produced marijuana available in the United States, much of the foreign marijuana transported to and available in the United States is produced in Mexico and Canada.
Despite continuing increases in the amount of cannabis produced domestically, much of the marijuana available within the United States is foreign produced. The two primary foreign source areas for marijuana distributed within the United States are Canada and Mexico. Mexico remains the primary foreign source for commercial-grade marijuana in the United States; approximately 15,800 metric tons of marijuana were potentially produced in Mexico in 2007, according to the latest data available from the Central Intelligence Agency Crime and Narcotics Center (CNC). Annual Mexican consumption is estimated at 100 to 500 metric tons; 13 consequently, law enforcement officials believe that the majority of the marijuana that Mexico produces is bound for U.S. markets. The government of Mexico (GOM) reports that cultivation and eradication activities are concentrated in 9 states: Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Michoacбn, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Durango. Guerrero, Nayarit, and Michoacбn are the primary growing areas in Mexico.
Canada is a much lesser, albeit significant, source of marijuana–particularly high-grade marijuana–to U.S. drug markets. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), annual Canadian marijuana production is estimated at between 1,399 and 3,498 metric tons; cultivation activities are most predominant in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, where approximately 90 percent of the marijuana is produced. RCMP also reports that approximately 1,749,057 plants were seized by law enforcement agencies in 2006–the most recent year for which these data are available.
Mexican DTOs have relocated many of their outdoor cannabis cultivation operations in Mexico from traditional growing areas to more remote locations in central and northern Mexico, primarily to reduce the risk of eradication and gain easier access to U.S. drug markets. According to CNC, Mexican DTOs have relocated many of their cannabis-growing operations from traditional growing areas in the states of Guerrero, Nayarit, and Michoacбn to remote mountain areas of Durango, Sinaloa, and Sonora in central and northern Mexico. CNC reports that the relocation is most likely the result of sustained high levels of detection and eradication in traditional growing areas as well as a desire on the part of the DTOs to reduce transportation costs to the Southwest Border and gain more direct access to drug markets throughout the United States.
Cannabis cultivation in Canada occurs predominantly in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec; RCMP estimates that 90 percent of the marijuana produced in Canada is produced from cannabis cultivated in these three provinces. Additionally, cannabis cultivation appears to be increasing in Ontario and Quebec, primarily due to increased law enforcement pressure in and displacement of DTOs and criminal groups from British Columbia. Despite regional changes in cultivation in Canada, marijuana production continues at a relatively high rate, according to law enforcement and intelligence reporting, as well as eradication data. Annual eradication totals for Canada are not available; however, RCMP reports that a total of 806,616 plants and 384 kilograms of marijuana were seized between 2004 and 2008 by the RCMP, Canadian Forces, and local enforcement as part of Operation SABOT–a national interagency effort aimed at eradicating outdoor cannabis cultivation sites.
Asian criminal groups are the primary producers of high-potency marijuana in Canada. Organized criminal groups, particularly Asian, but also Italian organized crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs), engage in marijuana production in Canada, largely because of the lucrative market for high-potency marijuana–particularly BC Bud. 14 According to RCMP, Asian criminal groups and OMGs are the primary traffickers of marijuana produced in Canada; however, Asian criminal groups–especially those of Chinese and Vietnamese descent–are predominant because of their advanced growing techniques for high-potency marijuana. The RCMP reports that the involvement of Asian criminal groups in technologically advanced indoor grow sites enables the groups to produce marijuana with high THC levels. In fact, the average THC content for marijuana grown in Canada was 10.25 percent in 2006, the latest year for which data were available. Law enforcement reporting indicates that these groups are using the large profits from high-grade marijuana sales to finance other illicit activities, including firearms and cocaine trafficking from the United States.
13. International Narcotics Strategy Control Report 2007.
14. BC Bud, which originally referred to sinsemilla grown in British Columbia, has become synonymous with high-grade marijuana from Canada. The THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) content of BC Bud ranges from an average of 10 to 15 percent but can be as high as 30 percent.
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Is Weed Legal in Mexico?
Mexico legalized medical cannabis in June 2017, but the restrictive measure only allowed the use of imported cannabis derivatives with low-THC content, and medical products are still not readily available to patients.
Adult-use cannabis has not been fully legalized in Mexico, but possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use was decriminalized in 2009. The country has continued to inch closer toward full-scale legalization, but possession and use of recreational marijuana remains illegal as of August 2019.
Mexico has had a long and complicated relationship with cannabis throughout its history. Although marijuana has been grown in Mexico since as early as the 16th century, when hemp was popular for rope and textiles, in 1920 the production of cannabis for recreational use was banned and in 1927 exports were also forbidden. Soon after, marijuana was criminalized throughout the country. Mexican weed laws and policies in many ways mirrored and were shaped by the anti-marijuana movement that developed in the United States at the same time.
But not always. In 1940, Mexico completely rethought its drug policies. For six months, the Federal Regulation of Drug Addiction decriminalized the sale and use of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin and released small-time drug offenders from jails. Instead of imposing punitive measures, the law allowed doctors to establish outpatient clinics and treatments and prescribe narcotics to addicts.
Despite generally encouraging early reports, including the cratering of the illegal drug trade, the law was overturned. Citing wartime shortages in morphine and cocaine, and facing threats of U.S. embargoes due to the policy, the government threw out the legislation and restored the earlier penalties. By December 1940, a new administration took over in Mexico and began military operations against peasant marijuana farmers. With U.S. aid, unsuccessful attempts were made to eradicate crops of marijuana and poppy fields in the 1970s with aerial spraying of herbicides.
On Dec. 11, 2006, Mexico launched its “war on drugs, ” when troops were dispersed throughout the country in an attempt to thwart drug cartels and their black market operations. It has been a bloody and costly campaign. Estimates range into the hundreds of thousands of dead, plus tens of thousands missing and abducted. The cost has been staggering, corruption remains rampant, and the cartels remain entrenched.
In August 2009 , possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana was decriminalized. Between 2015 and 2018, the Supreme Court issued a series of rulings loosening restrictions on the use of marijuana for recreational purposes . The early rulings have found the absolute prohibition laws for medical marijuana use were unconstitutional, as they did not protect the right to health.
In October 2018, the high court expanded its rulings to include recreational marijuana, arguing that the prohibition violated free expression. The latest ruling is the fifth by the court on the issue, making it binding on all courts in the country. While recreational cannabis remains illegal, the court’s decision could help create a possible roadmap for eventual legislation to clarify Mexico’s marijuana laws and construct a legal cannabis market .LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS Australia Germany Italy Jamaica Mexico Netherlands New Zealand South Korea Spain Switzerland Uruguay US ]]>