Where Washington’s Illegal Weed Comes From

How marijuana makes its way from the Mexican cartels to a front door in our region.

By: Shane Harris

1)Most marijuana sold in Washington is grown in Mexico. Drug cartels manage the land themselves or force farmers to grow the crops. These are the same cartels responsible for the violence that has swept across Mexico and into the United States.

2)After the marijuana is harvested, dried, and packaged, it comes across the border. Often the cartels bribe truck drivers to hide the pot in their legitimate cargo—which frequently consists of produce such as lettuce and strawberries.

3)The trucks make their way to Washington, often stopping in Atlanta and North Carolina to drop off groceries—or weed.

4)Once the marijuana is in Washington, an independent drug distributor meets the truck and takes his portion of the cargo. Some local distributors first fly to Mexico to make arrangements for the shipment.

5)Distributors sell to local dealers. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that wholesale Mexican marijuana in Washington sells for $950 to $2,000 a pound, depending on the quality.

6)The local dealers then use their own networks to sell marijuana at the street level. Those who buy weed from a dealer close to the source pay lower prices, while those who want it delivered to their home pay a premium.

Illustrations by Chris Philpot.

Sources: Customs and Border Protection Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration

This article appears in the February 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.