For a long time, Mexican drug cartels have been smuggling illegal marijuana across the United States border. While the cartels deal in all sorts of illegal drugs, marijuana has been one of the drugs most frequently connected to cartel activity and a major source of cartel profits.
Previously responsible for as much as an estimated quarter to half of the cartel’s profits, marijuana’s decriminalization and legalization in numerous states throughout North America has strongly affected cartel activity. Many are concerned that the cartels will adapt by turning their eyes towards smuggling methamphetamine and other harder drugs. Unfortunately, this seems to be at least partly true.
Legalized Marijuana and Cartel Profits
The decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in some areas of the United States has cut into cartel profits significantly. 2016 saw the lowest amount of marijuana seized at the Southwest border within the previous decade, with officials citing the increased availability of marijuana in the US – as well as its cheaper cost and greater potency – as contributing factors to this trend. Mexican cartels still have a foothold in states where marijuana has been legalized.
NBC reports that drug rings are taking advantage of states where marijuana is legal to hide their human trafficking and to establish marijuana grow houses. Despite this, the cartels have undoubtedly lost profits from the shift in US marijuana laws – and appear to be adapting.
Cartels Shift Toward Harder Drugs
The Council on Foreign Relations notes that Mexican drug cartels are the largest foreign suppliers of hard drugs to the U.S., like heroin, meth, and cocaine, with as much as 90% of methamphetamine in the United States originating in Mexico.
Having lost a good deal of the profitability of marijuana, many are shifting focus towards these harder drugs to make up the difference. As early as 2015, TIME noted that “seizures of both heroin and crystal meth on the U.S.-Mexico border have gone up as those of marijuana have sunk”. Meth seizures quintupled from 2009 to 2016. With meth and heroin cheaper to produce, and easier to transport and conceal, the shift in cartel priorities is having a profound impact on the lives of many Americans.
More Potent Meth in the United States
Just as the cartels have adapted to harder drugs, they have also adapted their methods for creating them. The methamphetamine finding its way into the United States is different from the small batches frequently cooked in rural US areas in the past. Now, it is more common for the meth to come from industrial-style laboratories in Mexico. This meth is stronger and more dangerous, with deaths from it and similar stimulants having risen in recent years. Such alarming trends are not surprising since meth’s purity has risen from roughly 39% a decade ago to as much as 93 to 96% today.
Treatment for Meth Addiction
With the availability of more potent meth and similar drugs than ever, the need for individuals struggling with meth addiction to seek professional help is of paramount importance.
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire has a number of treatment options for meth addiction. Our drug rehab centers offer a unique combination of 12-step work with clinical modalities for lasting recovery. If you or a loved one are addicted to meth or any other substance, the caring team at Granite Recovery Centers will help you develop the skills, strategies, and social support necessary to beat addiction and achieve sustained recovery.
Read more: Meth Treatment Options.