If drug gangs in Mexico are successful enhancing the quality of their product, they can sell the improved marijuana for up to five times the normal price. The going rate for top quality U.S. pot is around $2,500 per pound, while Mexican types sell for under $500, U.S. law enforcement officials say.
New cultivation tactics may be a sign Mexico is being forced to compete with growers north of the border, especially in California where business is booming, spurred on in part by marijuana for medical use, now legal in 15 states and the District of Colombia.
"I've been in drug law enforcement since 1970 and I never in my wildest dreams thought I would say California is producing more marijuana than Mexico," said Bill Ruzzamenti, a police officer specializing in the marijuana trade in California's Central Valley. "But there are people willing to spend the money on what they perceive to be primo bud as opposed to the Mexican crud," he added.