Every year, soldiers roam Mexico’s hinterland in search of illegal marijuana plots. Massive eradication campaigns have been part of Mexican life since the 1940’s. No other country on Earth has impounded so much cannabis for so many years.
That could be changing. According to recent official numbers (p. 51), marijuana seizures and eradication declined steeply in 2013, to lows unseen since the early 1990’s. Does this signal a major policy shift? Maybe. Here are the facts:
- Between 1995 and 2012, marijuana seizures averaged 1631 metric tons per year. In 2013, the total haul was 972 tons, 40% below the historical average. Even more surprising, less than half of the impounded volume was captured in the second semester (Note: I estimated second semester numbers by looking at this, p. 34). Traditionally, marijuana seizures are heavily concentrated in the months of October and November, right after the crop. Somehow, that did not happen in 2013.
- Eradication numbers are even more striking. From 1995 to 2012, Mexican authorities destroyed an average of 24,120 hectares (59,601 acres) of marijuana plots per year. In 2013, only 5,364 hectares (13,254 acres) were eradicated, almost 80% below the historical norm. And again, not much seems to have happened in the second half of the year, i.e., the prime months for marijuana eradication.
So what explains those less than impressive results? There are three distinct possibilities: Continue Reading…