border patrol united states mexico

Cannabis Seizures At U.S./Mexico Border Fall To Historic Lows

By Frank Schuler

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By many measures the border shared by the United States and Mexico has served as ground-zero for the war on cannabis. It’s no secret that for many years cannabis, among other things, was smuggled from Mexico into the United States via various entry points along the nations’ shared border.

Starting in 1996 the demand for cannabis smuggled from Mexico into the United States started to be impacted by domestic cannabis reform in the U.S., with California becoming the first state to pass a medical cannabis legalization measure in U.S. history.

Between 1996 and 2012 several other states also passed medical cannabis legalization measures, many of which involved the launch of a regulated industry, and in 2012 two states passed the nation’s first set of adult-use legalization measures. Every state-level industry that launched in the U.S. further reduced the demand for smuggled cannabis from Mexico.

Cannabis is still smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico, however, the rate of it happening continues to dwindle, as reflected by recent seizure statistics from the United States Border Patrol. Below is more information about it via a NORML news release:

Washington, DC: Federal law enforcement agents are intercepting historically low quantities of cannabis at the southern border, according to newly released data provided by the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection.

Federal statistics reveal that Border Patrol and Field agents confiscated an estimated 155,000 pounds of marijuana at the US/Mexico border in 2022. That is down almost 50 percent from 2021 totals and continues the dramatic decline in seizure volume that began in 2013, when nearly 3 million pounds of cannabis were confiscated at the southern border.

Some experts have previously speculated that licensed retail access to cannabis products, which began in Colorado and Washington in 2014 and is now available in almost half of all states, has significantly undercut demand for imported Mexican cannabis. According to conclusions provided by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, “In US markets, Mexican marijuana has largely been supplanted by domestic-produced marijuana.”

Separate data published last year by the Government Accounting Office and elsewhere indicates that interdiction efforts along the US border now typically involve the seizure of small quantities of marijuana and no other controlled substances.

Drug seizure statistics are available online from the US Customs and Border Protection website.

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