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Number of marijuana-related charges on decline in Maricopa County, data finds

(AP Photos)

PHOENIX — The number of charges involving marijuana has decreased at both the federal level and in Maricopa County, according to the latest data.

Federal marijuana prosecutions dropped nearly 50 percent in the last six years, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

And in Maricopa County, there has been more than a 25 percent decrease in marijuana possession and use charges and nearly 45 percent decrease in marijuana sales and production charges since 2009.

(Photo: Maricopa County Attorney's Office)

(Photo: Maricopa County Attorney’s Office)

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery attributes the decrease in marijuana charges to an increase in drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, which has spiked in response to a surge of domestically-grown marijuana.

“There has been an increase in domestic production of marijuana in states that have legalized growth for medicinal use and/or recreational use,” Montgomery said. “And that has challenged the Mexican drug organizations, they’ve been trying to keep up with that.”

But Montgomery said Mexican drug cartels have established marijuana grow operations of their own within the U.S. and trafficked it from Colorado to other states.

“Criminal organizations exist to engage in criminal activity and try to make easy money,” he said. “And if they’re not making as much money, with the type of marijuana that they have been smuggling, then they’re going to shift their product model.”

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