CO Marijuana's Success Hurting Mexican Pot Farms, Prompting Switch to Poppies

Mexican marijuana farm images via YouTube. An audio report and more below.
Mexican marijuana farm images via YouTube. An audio report and more below.

Colorado marijuana sales topped $100 million in August, and even though subsequent revenue totals haven't hit those heights, the success of recreational cannabis sales here and in a handful of other states is clearly having an impact well beyond state lines.

As evidence, check out a new report from Public Radio International, which suggests that the price for marijuana in Mexico has plummeted due to the liberalization of the U.S. pot market, especially in places where marijuana can be purchased legally, thereby reducing or eliminating the demand for weed coming over the border.

But the situation isn't entirely positive from an American perspective.

A journalist who's been covering the marijuana issue in Mexico says some farmers are replacing marijuana in their fields with poppies — because the demand for heroin is booming.

Deborah Bonello of the Los Angeles Times is the scribe in question, and she discussed a recent piece headlined "Mexican Marijuana Farmers See Profits Tumble as U.S. Loosens Laws" with PRI host Marco Werman.

"I spent some time in the mountains of Badiraguato, which is in the state of Sinaloa up in the north," she tells Werman in a segment accessible below. "And speaking to some of the marijuana farmers there, all of them talk about a dramatic drop in price.

"Marijuana has gone from selling for about $100 per kilo to about $30 a kilo and that's a change that's been happening over the last two or three years."

This price decline hasn't convinced all of Mexico's marijuana farmers to drop the crop.

Bonello notes that cannabis can still bring in more money than poppies in certain areas "because they only get one harvest a year for poppies and they get two of marijuana." However, many are shifting more resources (and field space) to poppies in order to satisfy the American desire for heroin, which is currently more prized that Mexican pot.

"I would imagine the government in Mexico City is also trying to figure out what to do next," Werman notes. "I mean, they must be looking at a state like Colorado and seeing the profits come in and tax revenue come in and thinking maybe we should think about our own policy on marijuana legalization and decriminalization...."

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"In fact, later this month, there is a big official conversation due to take place on the legalization of marijuana in Mexico," Bonello responds, adding, "President Enrique Peña Nieto has been very insistent that he is against the legalization of any drugs but he has said that he is open to having his mind changed. But the more U.S. liberalizes, it's hard to see how Mexico can resist legislative changes."

Here's the PRI piece.


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