The War on Drugs waged by the United States since the 1970s has created a myriad of Bootlegger and Baptists (1983) dynamics. Few people question who stands to benefit from the legalization of currently prohibited drugs. This question becomes more prominent as more jurisdictions globally legalize recreational Marijuana. What happens when the most evident Bootlegger of the illicit drug trade (the Sinaloa Cartel) works to legitimatize commercial Marijuana sales? Does this strategic move shift their position in the coalition to that of the Baptists?
This essay will examine this point to determine if the bad boys of the illegal dope game have turned over a new leaf. The legal status of Marijuana in Mexico is not as loose as the laws of their northern neighbors, California and Arizona. Medical cannabis has been legal in Mexico since 2017, but what about the recreational consumption of pot? Mexico has decriminalized possession of up to 28 grams of Marijuana; recreational cannabis is still not legal. The staunch competition from the United States has caught the attention of various cannabis vendors in Mexico.
American dispensaries have achieved immense success considering sales for recreational weed are projected to hit “.. $25.1 billion in sales in 2025, with an average yearly growth of %23.60 from 2019 to 2025…”. It is self-evident that the illicit drug cartels would want a piece of the action. Yes, the most infamous cartel in Mexico has been watching. In the city of Culiacan, those left in charge since the incarceration of “El Chapo” Guzman, the “Narcosjuniors”, have established quasi-legal dispensaries. Selling various products ranging from edibles to best-sellers (manufacturing around 1,200 to 1,500 a week); pre-rolled joints. However, the cartel creating formal business networks, does this mean they are making sincere inroads to legalizing a drug with relatively few societal externalities? The transparent motive profit, leading them to create a commercial channel transitioning to a legal market.
If Sinaloa is once again the proverbial Bootlegger, who are our Baptists? We need to look at whom the cartel is employing to ensure quality control. After all, the cartels do not have the best reputation; when it comes to producing primo Marijuana. El Chapo’s successors will not be the Baptists, but they have enough sense to enlist the help of the passionate pot aficionados to cultivate higher-quality weed. They have hired weed-loving growers who have previously lived in California. Their love for cannabis urges them to:
“..We only have the permit to produce. The organization is giving us their money, their trust, and the green light to make the best product. But we can only sell to one client: the organization. We get good pay for our job, not in the millions, but enough to live off well, but more than that, the opportunity to develop top-notch weed,” one of the producers said..”
As usual, the cartel is still chasing profits, but the growers they employ want to grow the best pot in the world. Because of their love for the product, they want to dominate the global market (Canada, United States, and the Netherlands being the current movers and shakers). Only time will tell; once legalization takes full effect, if Mexico can overtake the California market. It would be nice to see an aggressive resurgence of high-caliber Acapulco Gold as a result of market competition.