A study released Wednesday by a respected Mexican think tank concludes that if current ballot measures in certain American states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana pass, it could cut the earnings of Mexican drug cartels by as much as 30 percent.
The study by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute, “If Our Neighbors Legalize,” argues that legalization north of the border would allow more production of marijuana in the domestic US, imposing competition on the marijuana grown and distributed by the cartels.
The draconian prohibitionist policies in the US have contributed to record drug profits on the part of the cartels, which benefit from limited competition in the black market.
Furthermore, the militaristic approach the US has historically taken towards the drug war throughout Central America has boosted the ferocity of the drug cartels, who have built up virtual armies in various territories in Mexico in order to police their own market and battle the prohibitionist state.
Ballot measures on marijuana legalization are set to be voted on in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, but they are being met with stiff opposition. Many of those opposed criticized the validity of the Mexican study, but another study by the RAND Corp on legalization in California in 2010 found that it would cut cartel income by 20 percent.
Some are concerned about domestic issues when it comes to drug legalization, but Portugal’s experience with across the board drug decriminalization starting ten years ago has resulted in a plummeting of drug abuse nation-wide, plus a much healthier, less costly approach to drug use overall.
The ongoing prohibitionist policies by the US also end up justifying harsh, brutal interventionist foreign policies from Washington. The US maintains military bases throughout Central America, trains security forces throughout the region, and bolsters militaristic governments all with the justification of the drug war.