Mexico’s Illegal Cannabis Operations Plummet While Opium Takes the Lead


Following a ground-breaking Supreme Court decision in 2018, recreational marijuana bans are currently unenforceable and the government must move to setting up a legal framework.

The government complied (albeit reluctantly) and allocated the summer recess – May 1st to August 31st –  to meet the Supreme Court’s demands.

But according to Mexico News Daily, and interesting trend occurred in the months following the announcement. While the courts rendered their decision in October, 2018, the amount of illegal growth operations destroyed by the military have drastically dropped.

But opium, not marijuana, is much more prevalent. Although it is also at an all-time low, the number of hectares of opium poppies destroyed were significantly larger than those of marijuana.

Whether this correlates with the Supreme Courts decision is a matter of speculation, but something still worth exploring.


Significant Drop in Marijuana Operations


Mexico is no stranger to the drug trade, with the military directly involved in the literal war on drugs. But unlike the war in the United States, Mexico is making serious headway.

According to Mexico News Daily:


“Information provided to the newspaper Milenio by the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) shows that the army destroyed 615.5 hectares of marijuana crops between January 1 and May 9, an average monthly eradication of 143.1 hectares.”


While this number may seem substantial, it is rather small compared to statistics from 2014 until now. These new statistics represent a 33% drop in the average monthly hectares compared to the same period in 2018.

More impressively, this indicates an overall reduction of 70% from 2014.


Opium a Much Higher Presence


Mexico News Daily reports that opium also showed a reduction in presence during the same periods. However, the reduction was lower and leaves opium much further ahead. This makes the victory somewhat bittersweet:


“…the bigger crop is the opium poppy. Sedena data shows that the military destroyed 6,704 hectares of poppy crops between January 1 and May 9, more than 10 times greater than the area in which marijuana plantations were destroyed.”


This equals out to an average of 1,559 hectares per month. But despite the numbers being roughly much higher than those for marijuana, this still represents a five-year record low.

The question now is whether these statistics indicate opium’s higher popularity, or simply that illegal cannabis producers know their lives will soon be more difficult.


Potential Connection with Legalization?


Admittedly, there is no evidence that the legalization announcement directly affected marijuana’s presence in the black market. After all, legalization in Canada and some U.S. states did not seem to deter the illegal cannabis trade.

But if we look at the five-year period between 2014 and now, a 33% drop in just five months seems rather substantial.

We also must consider the fact that the Supreme Court declared marijuana possession laws unenforceable. Theoretically, this should embolden consumers and at least create a temporary spike in demand.

Finally, it is important to note that support for legalization in Mexico hovers at approximately 80% – much higher than the roughly 60% and 70% in the U.S. and Canada respectively.

All of these could change the way legalization interacts with the black market. Mexico also had the opportunity to learn from Canada’s mistakes and will hopefully find ways to avoid them.


WeedAdvisor’s Presence in Latin America


With the Latin American markets opening up, WeedAdvisor sees a lot of potential for businesses in the industry. However, with new industries come new challenges – ones that we know all-too-well.

In an effort to alleviate some of the headaches organizations inevitably face, WeedAdvisor created several different software platforms, offering solutions to improve efficiency, track inventory, establish POS systems enforce compliance and avoid costly fines from accidental violations – to name just a few services.

We look forward to working with our counterparts in Mexico and wish them the best of luck in establishing a successful legal cannabis framework.



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