Cheap Weed Adds Up Fast in Paraguay’s Black Market

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When the South American nation of Uruguay became the first country to officially legalize marijuana last year, headlines about $1 grams of cannabis made news around the world.
As it turns out, $1 per gram is considered to be outrageous in nearby Paraguay, where weed can be had for a mere $0.06/g.


You read that right. It comes down to simple economic principles like supply and demand. With a national population of just 6.7 million people, Paraguay is said to be the 2nd largest producer of marijuana in the world, behind only Mexico.
Despite the abundance of the chronic cash crop, weed still remains highly illegal in Paraguay where simple possession can land you 1-5 years in jail.
With all that pot, and not enough heads, a vast majority of Paraguay’s pot is exported to neighboring countries like Brazil and Uruguay, where it gets marked up 5x to a whopping $0.30 per gram. Only 10% of the total amount of cannabis harvested each year in Paraguay actually stays in Paraguay.
To get a sense of just how much cannabis is grown in the country, consider those rock-bottom gram prices, then consider how many grams need to be harvested, processed, and sold to arrive at the $650,000,000 that cannabis is estimated to generate every year in Paraguay alone.
The National Anti-Drug Secretary’s Office says that estimate is on the low-end of the scale, and that even at that, it puts illegal marijuana 4th on the list of highest grossing exports for Paraguay; behind only soybeans, cotton, and beef.
Meanwhile, the potential windfall of massive weed-related tax revenue remains underground, being laundered through Paraguay’s black market all because President Horacio Cartes says he watched former high school classmates “suffer and die” because of cannabis.
Interesting how it is having quite the opposite effect on the local economy.

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