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Will American Pot Farmers Put the Cartels Out of Business?

Society & Culture  (tags: americans, culture, education, freedoms, government, law, media, marijuana, police, politics, rights, safety, society )

- 1497 days ago -
For the first time ever, many of the farmers who supply Mexican drug cartels have stopped planting marijuana, reports the Washington Post.

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Kit B (276)
Monday May 12, 2014, 7:47 am
Photo Credit: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

For the first time ever, many of the farmers who supply Mexican drug cartels have stopped planting marijuana, reports the Washington Post. "It's not worth it anymore," said Rodrigo Silla, a lifelong cannabis farmer from central Mexico. "I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization."

Facing stiff competition from pot grown legally and illegally north of the border, the price for a kilogram of Mexican schwag has plummeted by 75 percent, from $100 to $25, the Post reports:

----Farmers in the storied "Golden Triangle" region of Mexico's Sinaloa state, which has produced the country's most notorious gangsters and biggest marijuana harvests, say they are no longer planting the crop…increasingly, they're unable to compete with US marijuana growers. With cannabis legalized or allowed for medical use in 20 US states and the District of Columbia, more and more of the American market is supplied with highly potent marijuana grown in American garages and converted warehouses—some licensed, others not.----

As notes David Downs of the East Bay Express, this is a really big deal. In the past decade, Mexican drug cartels have murdered an estimated 60,000 people. The DEA annually spends more than $2 billion to deter the transport of illicit drugs across the border. "So now we have both the DEA and cartel farmers screaming bloody murder about legalization," Downs points out. "Sounds like we're on the right track."

Of course, the American pot boom is also creating problems of its own, with some Mexican traffickers moving north to California and other states to set up vast "trespass grows" on remote public lands. To be sure, the illicit market for weed will prop up criminal syndicates for as long as pot remains illegal, yet this week's news is some of strongest evidence to date that legalizing and decriminalizing pot will ultimately make everyone safer.

By: Josh Harkinson | Report | Mother Jones |

Josh Harkinson is a staff reporter at Mother Jones.

Solitary Eagle (324)
Monday May 12, 2014, 8:26 am
Pot should never have been criminalized and this evidence only proves it! Too many lives have been ruined by the unjust "War on Drugs".

Brad H (21)
Monday May 12, 2014, 8:42 am

Angelika R (143)
Monday May 12, 2014, 9:02 am
".. yet this week's news is some of strongest evidence to date that legalizing and decriminalizing pot will ultimately make everyone safer. "-well, let's hope so, after all that's what everybody wants. But it remains to be seen,.. I wonder what those Mexican drug farmers now put out of business will turn to next to make a living of ..?

Kit B (276)
Monday May 12, 2014, 9:25 am

The next big thing in the US? Heroin. That too can be legalized, then controlled for proper distribution. When things are prohibited, the prohibition makes them more interesting and enticing. I would have no problem with Heroin being distributed by medical personnel in clinic. The glow of the hidden fun, would be a stark and ugly reality. People are not influenced by government or Holly wood propaganda, but they can be led.

Terry King (113)
Monday May 12, 2014, 10:13 am
In my area weed is so cheap and plentiful and the quality is so good, I'm not even planting this year...It's cheaper and easier to buy from local growers.

Jim Phillips (3257)
Monday May 12, 2014, 12:40 pm
Maybe the costs of the "War on Drugs" and deaths will go down soon.

The "War on Drugs" should have ended years ago. It has been a failed policy for a very long time, years, decades.

For those who have been convicted on pot charges, they should be released from prison immediately. Decriminalizing pot will ultimately make everyone safer.

ty, kit.

Jim Phillips (3257)
Monday May 12, 2014, 12:54 pm
Drug offenses account for 49,9% of why there is such a high number of prisoners
in the US prison systems.

Article and graph:
Care2 news story:


Bryan S (105)
Monday May 12, 2014, 2:18 pm
Thanks, Kit. Another good reason to end a crazy policy. Imagine the money saved if we didn't have to pay so much to catch and imprison people who choose to use a benign, even curative, substance (yes, as with many things negative consequences are possible).

So with legalization in CO and WA does anyone know of new developments in the hemp industry in these states? I'm just assuming that it's now legal there to grow hemp for fiber, oil, and other uses.

Dot A (182)
Monday May 12, 2014, 3:02 pm
this is an overly simplistic solution
to a socio-economic-cultural-phenomenon
wars (chemical drug wars) most likely will not cease with legalization
it's not about the plant
it is about the reign of lords
and "they" can find other 'things' to sell
> > > $$$
follow the $$$ trail
the grass will always look greener >>> when $$$ is the actual crop

. (0)
Monday May 12, 2014, 3:08 pm
Noted. Perhaps we should be looking at adapting some of the methods that Portugal employs toward drug usage.

Yvonne White (229)
Monday May 12, 2014, 4:35 pm
Legalize & regulate & tax..what's NOT being understood by even the dumbest politician? "...the illicit market for weed will prop up criminal syndicates for as long as pot remains illegal, yet this week's news is some of strongest evidence to date that legalizing and decriminalizing pot will ultimately make everyone safer."

Vallee R (280)
Monday May 12, 2014, 4:56 pm
All I can say living in Colorado is that this is a rough debate daily.

Mitchell D (87)
Monday May 12, 2014, 5:42 pm
Jim, those 49.9 % can't be released, doing that will just put so many more blacks put of prison, where they will be able to make, and raise, more black babies...and then what? what about the poor millionaire private prison owners, and the judges on the take?
Get real, man, what are you thinking??

Dale G (7)
Monday May 12, 2014, 6:08 pm
It could happen, but I wouldn't hold my breath too long. Sooner or later you gotta exhale and cough!

Rose B (141)
Monday May 12, 2014, 7:51 pm
I hope so

Bryan S (105)
Monday May 12, 2014, 9:31 pm
Dot A, i don't think anyone is saying that legalizing marijuana will end organized crime. But it will eliminate the violence associated with supplying that substance (which is quite a bit).

Then there's the moral question of imprisoning people for engaging in a harmless action. And regardless of the exact impact, there is no reason to not legalize it, while there are negatives to keeping marijuana illegal.

Craig Pittman (52)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 3:09 am
It's an excellent idea every way you look at it.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 3:12 am
Probably, could also develop American Cartels, that wouldn't be good. Kind of misses the point that most physicians surveyed agreed that there were significant physical (61%) and mental (64%) health risks with marijuana use. But as someone with MS, "It is the opinion of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Medical Advisory Board that marijuana is not recommended as a treatment for MS." Anyway, I'm not certain how accurate this article is, medical Marijuana would only cover 1% or 2% of the population.

Jonathan Harper (0)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 5:09 am

Catrin S (50)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 6:18 am
Marijuana needs to be legalized in the entire United States to make things cohesive , then when it will be grown here it will take business away from the Mexican drug cartels. Will that be the end of drug related violence ? No . But .......

. (0)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 7:59 am

pam w (139)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 9:09 am
I'm 100% in favor of DECRIMINALIZATION! It's a plant.....A PLANT! Will the government want to tax my tomatoes? My basil? My jalapenos? No? Then why tax my cannabis?

Barry AWAY T (935)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 1:00 pm
Decriminalize EVERYTHING -not because it's all good, but rather because:


Jamie Clemons (282)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 1:31 pm
The CIA won't like it if you start cutting into their buisness.

Melania Padilla (122)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 1:56 pm
That´d be cool!

Lois Jordan (63)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 4:22 pm
Noted. Thanks, Kit. The smile on my face from reading the article's title turned into some laughs as I read the 1st few sentences.....kind of reminded me of a Borowitz or Onion article. Putting the cartels out of business is a definite plus; but as others noted, the CIA, DEA, private prison lobby, and banks laundering drug money won't be at all happy....which makes me smile even more!
I agree with Pam w. to decriminalize. Let's get it off Schedule 1 first. I'd prefer my tax dollars going to our infrastructure, education, food stamps, unemployment......

Bryan S (105)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 6:19 pm
"Here’s a look at the survey numbers for doctors asked about medical marijuana:

69% say it can help with certain treatments and conditions.
67% say it should be a medical option for patients.
56% support making it legal nationwide.
50% of doctors in states where it is not legal say it should be legal in their states.
52% of doctors in states considering new laws say it should be legal in their states.

The difference in support between doctors who say it should be a medical option for patients vs. those who support legalization could stem from their views toward national or local control. Also, doctors may prefer that medical marijuana use be driven by FDA guidelines."

Prohibition does contribute to some good movies though:

JL A (281)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 6:21 pm
Hitchhiking on Jim's comment, criminal justice drug researchers say property crimes and drug offenses are interchangeable--just a question of which they got caught on and the combined total in CA from those two categories are usually about two-thirds (very little property crime is not related to drugs and income to purchase).

Rosa Caldwell (384)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 8:25 pm
I certainly hope they will if only make a difference anyway.

Astro Leon (62)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 9:52 pm
Come to Uruguay!

Past Member (0)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 10:52 pm
Pam, when you sell your tomatoes and basil and jalapenos, don't you pay tax?

Past Member (0)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 10:58 pm
Of course, like tomatoes, the ones you grow for personal use should never be taxed.

Inge B (202)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 12:37 am
Here in Sweden it's 0 - tolerance, police are looking everywhere, they're sneaking around in gardens and breaks into houses, it is pure terror.


Past Member (0)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 12:49 am
Its great to know that there are no murders, rapes, kidnappings, or other violent crimes in Sweden so that the police will have time to sniff out all of the weed. This is the case, yes?

Ondine J (134)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 3:01 am
This is good news, I wish it were happening in Australia. Barry sums up my views, thanks Kit

. (2)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 5:49 am

Winnie A (179)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 7:26 am
It could happen . . . . .

Panchali Yapa (26)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 10:14 am
Thank you

Birgit W (160)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 2:15 pm

Mary Donnelly (47)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 3:15 pm
Great post--thanks.

Janis K (126)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 3:50 pm
Hope so!! Great article. Thanks kit.

Kathleen R (138)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 4:22 pm
Good article ... thanks.

Sheri Schongold (7)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 5:02 pm
As far as I see it, legalizing pot will help put the cartels' noses out of joint. But, and it's a big but, we will now have legal potheads all over the place and will now have to watch out for them. How can we prosecute people who are taking it illegally? Do they carry a prescription? Hopefully, there will be some control of these sick people.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 5:54 pm
Sheri, what are we going to do with these 'sick' people that cling to these stereotypes about cannabis users?

Past Member (0)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 5:58 pm
Nobel Prize-Winning Economists Want The War On Drugs To End


Past Member (0)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 6:00 pm
Sheri, how many more prisons shall we build to house these evil 'potheads'?

Terry King (113)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 8:03 pm
Sheri... I am one pothead you will never have to worry about. I promise to stay 3,000 miles away from you!

Fiona Ogilvie (565)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 9:08 pm
US growers (speaking as one recently retired) take pride in growing very good strains......homegrown is the best grown.

Gloria p (304)
Thursday May 15, 2014, 12:40 am
One plant in your kitchen window will keep you stoned all year unless you need enough to stone an elephant.

. (0)
Thursday May 15, 2014, 6:18 am

Sergio Padilla (65)
Thursday May 15, 2014, 11:07 am

Past Member (0)
Thursday May 15, 2014, 3:20 pm

5 Ways to Improve Media Coverage of Marijuana and Other Drug-Related Issues

Many journalists still often use inaccurate, offensive, or just plain absurd language to cover drugs.

May 9, 2014 |

The ground has never been more fertile for a change to our nation’s failed drug policies. We are seeing a broader questioning of America’s drug policy that fills our prisons and empties our coffers, that severely punishes the use of certain drugs but tolerates, regulates, taxes and even subsidizes others.

In the late 1980s, media hysteria about drugs played a large part in the passage of draconian laws that turned the U.S. into the world’s leading jailer. In 1989, the proportion of Americans polled who saw drug abuse as the nation's "number one problem" reached a remarkable 64 percent – one of the most intense fixations by the American public on any issue in polling history. Within less than a year, however, the figure plummeted to less than 10 percent, as the media lost interest. The draconian policies enacted 25 years ago remain, however, and continue to result in catastrophic levels of arrests and incarceration.

Media coverage of drugs and drug policy has grown much more sophisticated in the past quarter-century. Yet many journalists – even some of the most well-meaning ones – still often use inaccurate, offensive, or just plain absurd language that would be considered unthinkable when covering any other issue.

Last year, the Associated Press made waves when it announced that it would no longer use the term “illegal immigrant.” This fits with the AP’s and other outlets’ efforts to cast aside labeling terms that define people by a single behavior or condition – and to instead use terms that humanize the people they are writing about.

In that spirit, here are five ideas for how members of the media can help improve the public’s understanding of drugs, people who use drugs, and drug policy:

1. People Who Want to Reform Marijuana Laws Are Mostly Not "Pro-Marijuana"

55% of Americans want marijuana legalization – and polls have recently found majority support in not just the places you’d expect but even in states like Florida, Texas, Indiana, Ohio and Louisiana.

Yet the media still often refers to people who are in favor of marijuana law reform as “pro-marijuana”. Just because someone supports reforming marijuana laws doesn’t mean that they encourage its use or have even tried it themselves. Most people are primarily concerned about the tax dollars and human potential squandered by arresting 750,000 people in the U.S. every year for marijuana.

And besides, contrary to conventional wisdom, reform would not necessarily lead to increased marijuana use. The U.S. has some of the highest rates of marijuana use, despite some of the harshest marijuana laws – while the Netherlands, which effectively decriminalized marijuana decades ago, has consistently much lower rates. And study after study has found that marijuana use has not increased in U.S. states that legalized medical marijuana.

2. Not Funny: Predictable Puns and Cheesy Stoner Images

I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I’ve come across an otherwise serious news article about, say, the 20 million Americans who have been arrested for marijuana possession – only to feel sick to my stomach when I notice the frivolous pun-filled headline. What other serious human rights, public health, or racial justice issue do we treat this way?

(The Washington Post’s Jamie Fuller recently called out pun-addicted headline writers in her piece “Opinions on marijuana are evolving. Pot puns definitely aren’t”.)

To make matters worse, news editors have yet to shake their reliance on absurd caricatures. Even though half of all American adults have used marijuana, it seems as if every article or TV news story about marijuana policy is overshadowed by over-the-top photos or B-roll of someone dressed up as a giant marijuana leaf. I know a lot of people who smoke marijuana – and as far as I can tell they’re not sporting the marijuana-themed tutus I’m seeing every day in the media.

That's why the Drug Policy Alliance has endeavored to provide media outlets with ready-to-use stock photos of everyday people who use marijuana. These images are examples of the type of photos that media could be using when doing a story about marijuana legalization – patients who use marijuana to relieve debilitating pain, or people losing their homes and their jobs because of a marijuana arrest. We are making these photos open license and free to use for non-commercial editorial purposes, and we hope they will help make the jobs of editors easier and the content more relevant.

3. Decriminalization and Legalization: They Mean Different Things

Despite their vast differences, much of the media apparently thinks “decriminalization” and “legalization” are the same thing.

Decriminalization eliminates criminal penalties for drug use or possession. Roughly two dozen countries, and dozens of U.S. cities and states, have taken steps toward decriminalization. Yet decriminalization alone does nothing to end the criminalization of people who grow, produce, distribute, sell or share drugs. Thus it does not address many of the greatest harms of prohibition – massive illicit markets, high levels of crime, corruption and violence, and the harmful health consequences of drugs produced in the absence of regulatory oversight.

Legalization could more accurately be called “legal regulation.” Legalization includes decriminalization of drug use, but goes much further by legally regulating and taxing production, distribution and sale. In 2012, Colorado and Washington voters made their states the first political jurisdictions anywhere in the world to legally regulate marijuana, and in 2013 Uruguay became the first country to do so.

Legal regulation is not a step into the unknown – we have more than a century of experience in legally regulating thousands of different drugs. Most regulatory proposals – and the laws in Colorado, Washington and Uruguay – include age limits, licensing requirements, quality controls, and restrictions on advertising.

Decriminalization does not include any of these controls, though it is a decent first step that would alleviate a significant portion of the harms associated with prohibition. And these harms are massive – more than a million people get arrested in the U.S. every year for nothing more than low-level drug possession.

4. All Drug Use – In Fact, Most Drug Use – Is Not “Drug Abuse”

According to the federal government’s own annual data, the vast majority of people who try any drug – even methamphetamine, crack, or heroin –do not use them problematically and do not develop a physical dependence. Yet the media often parrots drug war bureaucrats who sweepingly use the term “drug abuse” to apply to any and all drug use. How absurd would it be if we called all beer drinking “alcohol abuse”?

5. People Who Use Drugs Are People

Just as the media often conflates drug use and drug abuse, an even more common mistake is equating a person’s drug use with the sum of their identity.

It’s long past time to stop using dehumanizing terms that objectify or reduce people who use drugs to a single characteristic or behavior. My colleague Meghan Ralston recently wrote in “The End of the Addict”:

“We just take for granted that it’s totally okay to describe a human being with one word, ‘addict’ – a word with overwhelmingly negative connotations to many people. We don’t really do that for other challenging qualities that can have a serious impact on people's lives. We don’t say, ‘my mother the blind,’ or ‘my brother the bipolar.’ We don’t say, ‘my best friend the epileptic,’ or ‘my nephew the leukemia.’ We don’t do that because we intuitively understand how odd it would sound, and how disrespectful and insensitive it would be. We don’t ascribe a difficult state as the full sum of a person’s identity and humanity.”

Instead of “drug users”, try “people who use drugs”. Instead of “addict”, try “someone struggling with drug addiction”. Instead of “convicted felon”, try “formerly incarcerated person”. It may take a few extra words, but can make a world of difference.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will help sharpen our understanding of these issues. The unprecedented momentum for drug policy reform is sure to keep them in the news for years to come.

Sheila D (194)
Friday May 16, 2014, 6:51 pm
Pot is only one small part of the cartels' income...they'll find something else to replace it.

Charlene Rush (79)
Sunday May 18, 2014, 8:46 pm
Putting the cartels out of business, should be the main reason for legalizing any drug.

reft h (66)
Monday May 19, 2014, 10:57 pm
there is still crime even with legal substances like cigarettes and alcohol, but it seems mostly less violent and at least the govt can get the taxes

Debbie Crowe (87)
Friday August 1, 2014, 3:29 am
At least with legalizing and decriminalizing the sale of marijuana, the cartel won't be murdering 60,000 people any longer!!

Enoch C. Gould (13)
Wednesday August 20, 2014, 4:21 am
Honestly, I don't know! Thank you for posting this, Kit!
God bless all of you! Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior!
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