Marijuana legalization in the United States has prompted an unusual shift in the black market drug trade—marijuana is now being smuggled south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
It appears Mexican residents are chomping at the bit to get their hands on American-grown marijuana because it is vastly superior to the ditch weed being sold by the cartels.
A report from KPBS suggests that Tijuana residents with visas or dual citizenship have been driving into California, where weed has been legal for medical purposes for nearly two decades, and smuggling small amounts back home. It is a practice that is expected to intensify if California voters approve an initiative in the upcoming November election to legalize the leaf for recreational use.
“If you’re in Mexico, and you want the best marijuana out there, there’s only one place to get it,” attorney Matthew Shapiro, who specializes in cannabis law, told the news source.
“There’s no such thing as high-quality Mexican weed,” he added.
While it is illegal to smuggle marijuana from the United States into Mexico, doing so is relatively risk-free. Unlike the border stops a person is forced to contend with when crossing over into the U.S., there are rarely any border agents looking to stop Mexico-bound travelers to search for illegal drugs. So, it’s nothing to bring a modest supply of quality herb across the border every trip.
Interestingly, the report also indicates that the potency of the California grass being brought into Mexico is sending its citizens straight to rehab.
Dr. Raul Palacios, clinical director at the Centro de Integración Juveníl drug rehabilitation facility in Tijuana, told KPBS that many of his patients prefer the high quality medical cannabis they get in California to the herb indigenous to Mexico because it simply gets them higher. But he says that since these people have grown accustom to lower THC levels, the American marijuana, specifically the stuff they are getting their hands on in California, has a capacity to send them over the edge—inducing hallucinations and causing extreme paranoia.
“I thought I was being followed,” said a patient identified only as Rodrigo, adding that it was some bud from San Diego that got him so jacked up that he decided to check in to rehab.
Yet, Rodrigo says he would still rather smoke weed from the United States than anything sold in Mexico.
“It’s more powerful, it gets you higher,” he added.
In September, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto revealed that he and other keys officials were paying close attention to marijuana legalization efforts in California. During a meeting with a group of California delegates, he told Senator Ben Allen that Mexico was waiting to see what happens with respect to marijuana in the Golden State before addressing policy changes of its own.
Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, recently told Reuters that Mexico would eventually go in the direction of the United States, especially after watching California generate in upwards of $1 billion in tax revenue.