DEA Data Suggests Illegal Marijuana Market Is Shrinking

With more and more states legalizing recreational and medical marijuana, you'd expect the illegal market for cannabis to begin shrinking in the United States. And according the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), that's exactly the case.

According to DEA statistics, the amount of illegal marijuana seized by the federal government decreased by 35 percent in 2017. To put that in comparison, in 2016 the amount of marijuana seized actually increased by 21 percent over the amount in 2015. So 2017 marked a dramatic reduction in the amount of cannabis being confiscated by the DEA.

One of the most probable reasons for that drop in seized marijuana is that there's simply less illegal cannabis for them to confiscate. More people are opting into the legal recreational market and eschewing the black market. That would mean the illegal market for marijuana is decreasing.

Of course, there could be other reasons as well. The DEA may be facing more hurdles to confiscating marijuana due to new states implementing new laws that either decriminalize or legalize cannabis, making it harder for them to do their jobs. Or perhaps the DEA is re-focusing its efforts to more dangerous drugs now that they realize how little a threat marijuana poses.

However, most experts who attempt to calculate the size of the marijuana black market have said they believe its shrinking as a result of legal marijuana. They point to the increasing sales of legal cannabis as proof that people are rejecting the black market in large numbers.

But as long as marijuana's still illegal at the federal level, there will still be people looking to obtain the drug illegally and possibly facing major punishments for doing so.

(h/t High Times)


A recent study found that medical marijuana legalization was associated with a reduction in workplace fatalities. While many marijuana opponents would argue that legalizing cannabis is only going to lead to more workplace injuries, a new study says that simply isn't the case. In fact, legalizing medical marijuana could actually make workplaces safer.

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