Unlike marijuana products available in legal markets, smuggled and black markets are not tested for potency or toxins, putting consumers at risk.
Many people have heard of OPEC, the group of petroleum exporting countries often referred to as the “oil cartel,” which aims to regulate the price and supply of oil globally. But the mantle of oil cartel may soon pass onto the violent drug organizations south of the border, which are adapting to the growing legal marijuana marketplace by smuggling their own version of oil made from cannabis.
Mexican drug cartels rose to prominence by smuggling bales of cannabis through the border between the United States and the Aztec nation. But the amount of raw marijuana illegally transported into the U.S. has decreased over the years, due to a few possible reasons. Security along traditional smuggling routes has increased, making bulky marijuana riskier to move. Increased legal access to better quality cannabis may also be a contributing factor.
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With cannabis now legal in Canada, the cartels to the south are also facing stiff competition from drug runners along the US northern border. Finally, increased demand for higher-margin and easier to smuggle opioids like fentanyl may have also turned cartel focus away cannabis.
Nonetheless, the demand for black market marijuana in the U.S. remains strong enough that cartels do not want to abandon it completely.
Along with increased illegal and toxic grow operations within U.S. national parks, Mexican drug organizations are also importing marijuana processed in Mexico into a viscous concentrate called “crude oil” due to its similarity in color and consistency to Texas Tea.
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Unlike marijuana products available in legal markets, smuggled and black markets are not tested for potency or toxins, putting consumers at risk. While there is as yet no correlation between Mexican “crude oil” and last year’s rash of contaminated vape cartridges it can safely be assumed that vape or dab products made from smuggled marijuana oil have not gone through independent lab testing.
Cannabis oil isn’t the only way Mexican cartels are diversifying their criminal enterprise to suit changing consumer tastes in America. Increased demand along with lower than expected yields has led to a recent surge in avocado prices along with Mexican cartels fighting for control of the lucrative extortion market in the state of Michoacan. The cartels have in the past also been known to smuggle actual petroleum oil as well.