Twenty-five million Americans smoked marijuana at least once during 2007, according to the DEA's most recent data, and yet DEA says there is no credible data that suggest how much is grown by the users themselves, how much must be transported from grower to consumer, or how far the average bud travels before being consumed. Heck, they don't even have an estimate of how much marijuana is produced in the U.S. "Intelligence gap," indeed.
But this story from the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin suggests a hell of a lot of it is transported from state to state to meet demand. Utah Highway Patrol is under the impression that Interstate 80, which stretches from California's Bay Area to Salt Lake City and beyond, is a major corridor for marijuana distribution, or to use the pejorative language of prohibition, "trafficking."
A few things come to mind here. I know, from talking to people who work in California's marijuana industry, that they are very aware of the law enforcement hypothesis that I-80 is a favorite pathway for drug trafficking, and they know that UHP conducts stings specifically targeted at finding marijuana. This Transcript article is not the first of its kind. So why do the marijuana mules keep driving it? (Insert the media-favored narrative of "stupid crooks;").
The primary reason might be because it is the most direct route from northern California (a major marijuana-producing region) to points eastward, including Utah. That's the obvious one. Secondly, some mules must be stupid, certainly. But there's a lot more going on here.
I'm pretty skeptical that I-80 is especially steeped in marijuana transporting. Here's why:
Put all that together, and it seems that marijuana is nearly as popular as iPods. In which case, could there be any freeway in America where marijuana is not being transported in large quantities?