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National Drug Intelligence Center
California Drug Threat Assessment Update
Marijuana is the most widely available and commonly abused illicit drug in California. Marijuana treatment admissions are at relatively high levels and are increasing. According to the California Alcohol and Drug Data System, marijuana treatment admissions increased from 20,143 in 2000 to 23,531 in 2001.
Marijuana produced in California and in Mexico is available in every part of the state. High quality marijuana from Canada (BC Bud) is also available in some areas of the state. California-produced marijuana is preferred by abusers because of its ready availability and high THC, (tetrahydrocannabinol) content. California-produced marijuana usually contains 10 percent to 20 percent THC, while Mexico-produced marijuana contains 2 percent to 5 percent. Canada-produced marijuana typically has 28 percent to 30 percent THC content. According to DEA, in the southern half of the state, California-produced marijuana sold for $1,000 to $4,000 per pound and Mexico-produced marijuana sold for $250 to $400 per pound in the first quarter of FY2002. In the northern half of the state, California-produced marijuana sold for $1,500 to $4,000 per pound and Mexico-produced marijuana sold for $380 to $1400 per pound. Canada-produced marijuana sold for $3,000 to $6,000 in areas throughout the state.
Mexican DTOs operate large-scale cannabis cultivation operations in national forests as well as in rural and suburban areas throughout the state. Some of these organizations hire illegal immigrants to manage and watch over the cannabis cultivation sites. The use of public lands to cultivate cannabis is appealing to these operators because the risk of asset forfeiture is substantially minimized.
Mexican DTOs transport most of the Mexico-produced marijuana available in California. These organizations also distribute the drug at the wholesale level. Canada-produced marijuana is transported into the state by Caucasian criminal groups and independent dealers, who distribute it at the wholesale level. Mexican DTOs and Mexican and Caucasian criminal groups are involved in the wholesale distribution of California-produced marijuana. Various groups including Mexican DTOs; Hispanic, Caucasian, Jamaican, and African American criminal groups; and street gangs distribute marijuana at the retail level.
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