Mexican drug cartels are facing an opponent more formidable than law enforcement: competition. The long-growing illicit US pot industry has gotten a shot in the arm from the new rules surrounding medical marijuana, the Washington Post reports. Whereas once Mexican and Colombian groups produced nearly all the pot consumed in the US, now domestic growers, mostly small mom-and-pop operations, control around half the multibillion dollar market.
That’s putting the squeeze on cartels in a way decades of police crackdowns haven’t. Though authorities tend to focus on hard drugs like cocaine or heroin, it’s pot that provides most of the cartels’ revenue. “Marijuana created the drug trafficking organizations you see today,” says one leading authority. But the cartels aren’t giving up. Like any business, they’re trying to improve their product and delivery system to stay competitive.