Findings in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment are unlikely to be a surprise to most cannabis-loving Americans.
DEA, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, reports that while demand for weed is at an all-time high in the country, so is the potency of the cannabis and cannabis-derived products available on state markets. This is even more so on the illicit market, which is thriving.
Meant to be a “comprehensive strategic assessment” of the threat of drug trafficking and abuse, both international and domestic, to the American people, the report is based on data from a multitude of sources. These include lab analyses, drug seizures and raids, survey data from state and municipal law enforcement and information regarding organized crime.
As in years past, this year’s report revealed that cannabis is the most commonly consumed illicit drug in the U.S. The majority of states that have legalized the drug do not place potency limits on cannabis and derived products such as edibles, flower and concentrates. This means levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, the intoxicating compound in the cannabis plant) are on the rise, as is U.S. demand for cannabis products.
Although domestic cannabis production is increasing, Mexico is one of the largest contributors to the U.S. cannabis market.
The amount of illicitly produced cannabis — cannabis that is not grown in compatibility with state licensing laws — is increasing, and so is the demand for higher-potency products.
The popularity of cannabis products, the perception of very little risk and the increased recognition of a reduction in stigma render the drug an attractive crop for diverse illicit producers and traffickers, the report noted.
Although the majority of U.S. states have legalized cannabis for medical and/or adult use, the DEA continues to classify the drug as a Schedule I substance, which means it remains federally illegal.
Written by Emma Spears