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Intelligence Gaps

No reliable estimates are available regarding the amount of domestically cultivated or processed marijuana. The amount of marijuana available in the United States--including marijuana produced both domestically and internationally--is unknown. Moreover, estimates as to the extent of domestic cannabis cultivation are not feasible due to significant variability in or nonexistence of data regarding the number of cannabis plants not eradicated during eradication seasons, cannabis eradication effectiveness, and plant-yield estimates.

The amount of cannabis cultivated and marijuana produced in the United States by large-scale DTOs, including Asian, Caucasian, and Mexican groups, is unknown. No estimates are available regarding the amount of marijuana produced by Asian, Caucasian, and Mexican traffickers in the United States; currently, no national-level eradication statistics are compiled or recorded by the producing group. The lack of such estimates precludes a precise determination of the extent to which each group is involved in marijuana production within the United States.

The extent of indoor cannabis cultivation in the United States is largely unknown and likely underreported because of the challenges posed to law enforcement entities in locating indoor grow sites. Law enforcement reporting indicates that indoor cannabis cultivation in the United States is increasing because more cultivators are establishing indoor grows in order to avoid detection and attain higher profits. However, fewer indoor grow sites are eradicated than outdoor sites in the United States. DCE/SP data indicate that 20,121 outdoor sites were eradicated in 2008, compared with just 4,165 indoor sites the same year. This disparity is most likely due to challenges posed to law enforcement in investigating indoor grow sites, particularly issues pertaining to searches of the sites, since most are located within private residences.

 

Outlook

In the near term, the threat posed by domestic cannabis cultivation in both outdoor and indoor grows will increase as DTOs expand their operations throughout the United States. Traffickers, primarily Mexican and Asian DTOs, involved with cannabis cultivation and marijuana distribution will expand their operations to new areas, primarily to minimize detection and maximize profits. Such expansion will likely occur in areas where traffickers believe there is less law enforcement scrutiny and public awareness. Additionally, demand for high-potency marijuana may encourage traffickers to produce other high THC-content products such as hashish and hash oil.


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