National Drug Intelligence Center
The Domestic Cannabis Cultivation Assessment is prepared annually to provide policymakers, law enforcement executives, resource planners, and cannabis eradication program coordinators with strategic intelligence regarding cannabis cultivation and marijuana trafficking trends.1 The assessment highlights strategic trends in indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation, particularly in principal domestic cultivation areas. This assessment also presents strategic intelligence regarding the operational trends and tendencies of drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and criminal groups that produce marijuana, and it addresses the violence, hazards, and environmental damage associated with domestic cannabis cultivation.
The high demand for marijuana has prompted DTOs2 and criminal groups to engage in large-scale cannabis cultivation in the United States and to smuggle thousands of metric tons of marijuana from Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Canada into the United States for distribution. Mexican criminal groups operate large outdoor cannabis plots, often composed of several thousand plants, particularly on public lands in western states. Caucasian criminal groups, especially in Appalachian communities, cultivate significant amounts of cannabis, typically in smaller plots (100 to 200 plants). Some cannabis growers, particularly Caucasian criminal groups, have shifted from outdoor cannabis cultivation to indoor cultivation to gain higher profits generated from the production of higher-potency marijuana. The shift from outdoor to indoor cultivation by some criminal groups has contributed to an overall rise in indoor cannabis cultivation nationally; however, most indoor cannabis cultivation can be primarily attributed to large-scale indoor cultivation by Asian DTOs, including some Asian DTOs from Canada.
This assessment addresses changes in domestic and
foreign cannabis cultivation that have emerged since publication of the Domestic
Cannabis Cultivation Assessment (DCCA) 2007 and 2008. Please refer to the DCCA
2007 and 2008 for more information on historical cultivation trends and in-depth
state-level information for primary cultivation areas.
2. For the purposes of this assessment, the term Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) refers to groups of two or more individuals involved in drug trafficking activities in the United States that have connections to foreign countries, like Mexico or Canada.
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