Colorado is both killing and supplying Mexico's marijuana industry

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In a new report from National Public Radio, not only does it seem that the legal weed found in states like Colorado is hurting the business of Mexican cartels, but that the tide has reversed and Colorado marijuana is now being imported into Mexico.

First, reporter John Burnett talks to 24-year-old Sinaloense grower Nabór: "Two or three years ago, a kilogram of marijuana was worth $60 to $90. But now they're paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It's a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they'll run us into the ground." (One kilogram is equivalent to roughly 2.2 pounds.)

It's a threat the Sinaloa Cartel is surely aware of, according to a January story from FOX News.

"Cartels, especially the Juarez and Sinaloa, who have a strong presence in Colorado, could not have been happy with the estimated $1 million in sales Jan. 1, the first day of legalized retail sales. In 2012 the Mexican Competitiveness Institute issued a report saying that Mexico’s cartels would lose as much as $1.425 billion if Colorado legalized marijuana. The organization also predicted that drug trafficking revenues would fall 20 to 30 percent, and the Sinaloa cartel, which would be the most affected, would lose up to 50 percent."

Nabór grows the strain Chronic on behalf of another, who pays him $150 a month and provides all the materials needed for the plant. In return, the grower, who also collects firewood and raises cactus, cultivates the plant and avoids the military when it comes calling.

"The day we get $20 a kilo," Nabór says, "it will get to the point that we just won't plant marijuana anymore."

So, bizarrely, we're left with the reverse situation.
DEA spokesman Lawrence Payne tells NPR that Sinaloa operatives in the United States are reportedly buying high-potency American marijuana in Colorado and smuggling it back into Mexico for sale to high-paying customers.

"It makes sense," Payne says. "We know the cartels are already smuggling cash into Mexico. If you can buy some really high-quality weed here, why not smuggle it south, too, and sell it at a premium?"

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