Quasi-legality of US weed is reversing its flow back to Mexico


#1

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#2

See? Marijuana does lead to harder drugs, for the sellers anyways.


#3

My friends in Mexico have been worrying about this. Among the possibilities, my friends worry, for replacing the revenue : kidnapping and organ theft. Not a nice feeling.


#4

Street “price” here in San Diego is at an all time low, they are charging early 80’s prices.

Considering the heft of the potency, you can stretch it much further, and that’s the way the bong bounces…


#5

"The Mexican drug cartels are turning their attention to heroin to make up for the lost revenue. "

That sounds scary (and is right out of the war on drugs playbook) but keep in mind the cannabis market is and always has been far far larger than the heroin market. Cannabis is (was?) one of the single largest sources of income for cartels, and you can’t just ‘make up for it’ by shipping more heroin, because the number of people who want to use heroin hasn’t (and won’t) magically increase just because you’ve decided to ship more of it. All you’ll really see is a decrease in the price of heroin, which means heroin users won’t need to commit as much ancillary crime to support their habits. ie less shoplifting and other petty theft. And more importantly, the cartels will have less money and hence less ability to distort the Mexican economy and corrupt the Mexican political system.

ie this is a net good.


#6

Yet another example of how the pearl clutching, hand-wringing “think of the children” justifications for the War! on Drugs! is a steaming pile.


#7

Pretty much exactly what happened with the mafia in the U.S. when alcohol prohibition was ended. The war on booze became the war on (other) drugs—but at least there were fewer combatants.


#8

Errrrr no.

The price of heroin crashing definitely increases use. Being a much harder drug maybe it will impact less, but I was just reading that drug addiction and overdose deaths now exceed traffic fatalities in the U.S. and that was partly attributed to a dose of heroin now costing “about as much as a six pack of premium beer”.

Still, legalizing Marijuana use is definitely a net good, but there may be some unforeseen consequences.


#9

Except nothing in that article suggests that the price decrease is the reason for the increase in addiction or overdoses. I think it is more clearly linked to prescription pain killer abuse and heroin being cheaper and easier to get than prescription painkillers, but that has always been true as far as I know.


#10

I read a few articles on it and most said it was a 50/50 split between prescription painkillers being wayyy more prescribed, and cheaper illicit heroin. At any rate, deaths from drug overdoses are steadily rising, such that more people die from drug overdoses than traffic fatalities in the U.S. now. And the trend is still up!


#11

It used to be that prescription opiates were much cheaper than heroin, because production costs are very low and pharmacy supply chains are much less expensive to maintain than criminal black markets, even though the pharmacies have to do quality control. Now that the US is aggressively cracking down on prescription opiates to try to combat addiction, the street price of those is going up and the supplies are much more limited, so heroin can compete better.

For instance, a few years ago an over-the-counter-in-Canada bottle of Tylenol 222s cost about $5, and the only reason it wouldn’t keep Rush Limbaugh happy all day was that it’s also got acetaminophen in it (aka paracetamol) so it’d rot your kidneys and liver if you took that much; it’s mainly there to keep people from abusing the non-prescription and easy-to-prescribe drugs, while the pure stuff requires much more DEA paperwork.

I use opiates about as often as I get root canals, but my dentist used to be able to prescribe either hydrocodone (Vicodin) or regular codeine, and the regular stuff makes me a bit more spacey for a given amount of pain relief; I know people who have the opposite reaction. Now that the US government is cracking down on them, it’s hard for dentists to prescribe Vicodin, so I’m stuck with the side effects of the regular stuff. (If I want to get spacey, medicinal weed does the trick just fine.)


#12

The CDC say that, from 1999-2012:
Total drug-poisoning deaths rose from 16849 to 41502 (246%)
Opioid analgesic deaths rose from 4030 to 16007 (397%)
Heroin deaths rose from 1960 to 5925 (302%)

and that there were 36415 motor vehicle accident fatalities in 2012.

That would suggest that prescription drug overdose is rather more of a problem than heroin overdose, both in numbers and in rate of increase.


#13

Yeah. But even since 2012 trend is up up up.


#14

The price has gone down but not all that dramatically. That may be why such articles need characterizations such as “about as much as a six pack of premium beer” instead of just approximating a street price. If you had a 20 dollar bill you can get a dose of heroin in 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010. Quality, availability, dose may vary over time, by location or means or any number of factors, but it hasn’t changed so much.

I’ve attributed the rise in heroin use to it’s competition. Oxy-this and that, numerous opioid based prescription painkillers becoming far more available and far less expensive also creates a growth market when users can start out on a easy to acquire, far more socially acceptable, far less intimidating pill form for however long they need to become addicted to opioids.

That factor IMO would bolster the sale and use of street heroin far more than relatively minor, mostly market driven price fluctuations.

Blame big pharma for producing, marketing and distributing far more opioid painkillers in the past 2 decades than this continent has ever previously had a legitimate use for.

It hasn’t been, won’t be the illegal drug cartels that propel heroin sales upward, they’re just along for the ride.

Since the introduction of Oxycontin in 1995 it’s sales have eclipsed many times the volume of sales the drug was meant to replace, while at the same time the sales of those drugs continued to rise as their prices dropped & their production volumes increased. Drug companies argue that they have to produce and sell so so so so so much more than society has a legitimate use for or the abusers will get all of it and legitimate users won’t have any. Yes, laughable, all the way to the bank.


#15

Maybe cars are a hell of a lot safer.


#16

Good observation! And while automobiles have been getting safer, the legally available opiates have become commonly adulterated with a (barely) sub-lethal dose of paracetamol / acetaminophen.


#17

So, do we count this under exports on our national GNP?


#18

Weed hasn’t been truly profitable for years. It yields just enough cash to make it worth doing (i.e. it “keeps the lights on”). Cocaine has been the profit maker (or, when caught, the real loss) for the cartels. If enough weed gets through on a route regularly enough and long enough, it’s deemed safe for cocaine. Which is why weed is usually let through, in the hopes of damaging the cartels by seizing the coke.

If the weed routes do go, however, then moving real drugs becomes riskier and more important to cartels’ survival. Expect escalating violence as the cartels start to get lean and actually compete for routes.


#19

I’ve been doing research on opioid-related overdose for about 15 years now (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=YIAInOEAAAAJ&hl=en). You’re right that opioid overdose is the largest casue of accidental death in the US, having eclipsed motor vehicle deaths in about 2011. However the jump in heroin use in the last couple of years is largely iatrogenic - opioid pill prescription has been through the roof in the last two decades, and as the medical profession is having a collective panic about it (reinforced by the growth of state-level Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, which keep track of the volume of opioids being prescribed, making a lot of docs somewhat nervous that the DEA and state-level friends are about to crack down on them), literally tens of thousands of people have been rather abruptly cut off their prescription opioids without much in the way of support or treatment for dependence. Which has rather predictably led to a lot of desperate dependent people going to the black market and rapidly discovering heroin is a lot cheaper than black market oxycontin.

ie the recent rise in heroin use has nothing to do with changes in price (and heroin has been pretty stable in the last couple of years pricewise - I’m guessing the price of heroin will drop if production increases in response to decreased demand for cannabis, but that’s an educated guess, not something based on data so far) and almost everything to do with really major changes in US policy and practice around prescription opioids.


#20

Yes. motor vehicle deaths have been declining steadily while opioid-related overdose deaths have been trending up. The two lines crossed approximately 2011.