| VANCOUVER, British Columbia
VANCOUVER, British Columbia The strong Canadian
dollar has hit the illegal marijuana sector just as it has
other industries that export to the United States, one of
Canada's best known legalization advocates said on Thursday.
But western marijuana growers have also benefited from
Canada's strong economy, especially the booming Alberta oil
patch, which has increased domestic consumption, according to
Marc Emery, a founder of the British Columbia Marijuana Party.
The Canadian dollar touched parity with the U.S. dollar
last week, topping a rise of some 60 percent over the past five
years. On Thursday, it was still hovering around par, at
C$1.0014 to the U.S. dollar or 99.86 U.S. cents.
A stronger loonie -- so called for the bird engraved on the
one dollar coin -- has cut the profit of selling potent "B.C.
Bud" marijuana in U.S. markets at a time when producers in
Canada struggle with tighter border security and competition in
the United States with pot from other sources.
Top quality Canadian pot is selling for $3,500 (1,725
pounds) a pound in the United States, compared with C$2,400
(1,180 pounds) in domestic markets, according to Emery, who is
also editor of Cannabis Culture magazine and fighting
extradition to the United States.
"When you factor in all the risk and transportation, that
(higher export price) is not a big deal any more," said Emery,
adding that when the Canadian dollar was weak exporters could
double their money selling into the United States.
U.S. authorities seized 26,414 kilograms (58,233 pounds) of
marijuana in northern border states in 2005 compared with
11,546 kg (25,455 pounds) in 2001, according to the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration's latest National Drug Threat
A study in 2004 estimated the street value of British
Columbia's annual marijuana crop at more than C$7 billion,
which would make it one of the western Canadian province's
Simon Fraser University economics professor Stephen Easton,
who authored the 2004 report, said there has been no specific
study of the impact of currency on drug exports but it should
be the same as with legal exports.
"Basically, what happened is the cost of producing the
stuff went up in U.S. dollar terms," said Easton, who is
planning to further investigate the issue.
Emery said Canadian marijuana is also facing price
competition in the United States from Mexican-grown pot, which
has benefited from a relatively weak peso, as well as increased
domestic production in the Western U.S.
The U.S. anti-drug agency said in its 2007 report that
large scale cultivation of marijuana by Mexican criminal groups
was expanding beyond California and into the Pacific Northwest,
and that the potency of the pot available was rising.
"What's happening is that they're producing tons and tons
of marijuana this fall. It will considerably add to the U.S.
total (supply) and bring their outdoor pot price down," Emery
But a healthy Canadian economy has allowed marijuana
producers to sell more at home. "They're making a lot of money
on those oil rigs, and everywhere Canadians are making decent
money they are doing a lot of drugs," Emery said.
Canadians have the highest rate of marijuana use in the
industrialized world, according to a United Nation's study
released in July.
Emery was arrested in Vancouver in August 2005 at the
request of U.S. authorities, who have accused him of breaking
U.S. drug laws by illegally exporting marijuana seeds to the
He is fighting extradition and faces a January court