Marijuana legalization in the US has been a slow and cautious process thus far. The country is only peppered with a few states allowing medicinal marijuana, and even fewer with actual legalization. Though that amount may seem minuscule, but according to a recent report by the US Border Patrol, it's taking a serious toll on the Mexican drug cartels who were once primary marijuana providers in many of these states.
In 2015, Border Patrol agents seized less marijuana along the Mexican border than they have in almost a decade, according to the Washington Post. In 2009, agents seized nearly 4 million pounds of weed. In 2015, after several states passed legalization, they seized only 1.5 million pounds.
Many stories have come out in recent years about the effect of legalization on Mexican growers. In 2014, NPR ran a story on 'All Things Considered' where a grower states "if the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they’ll run us into the ground.”
Above all else, it is an issue of quality. “American pot smokers prefer American domestically grown marijuana to Mexican-grown marijuana,” said HIGH TIMES’ cultivation editor, Danny Danko to NPR in 2014. Legally grown, US marijuana has a higher cultivation standard that Mexican growers simply do not have the budget or demand for.
These Mexican growers have stepped up their game as of late in an effort to compete. The issue now, however, is that American buyers still perceive Mexican weed as inferior, according to the DEA's 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment. It has become an issue of branding, and Mexico simply can't compete with one of the fastest growing legal markets in the country.