War on Drugs

Marijuana Legalization Progress in U.S. Shows Signs of Harming Mexican Cartels


It's a week or so old, but this Daily Caller story has some hopefully timeless trend-setting to report on how the some state level pot legalization in the U.S. might be harming Mexican drug cartels, from indications of amounts captured on the border and Mexican murder numbers.

666isMONEY ☮ ♥ & ☠ / Foter / CC BY

The meat:

Homicides in Mexico have dropped from 22,852 in 2011 to 15,649 as of 2014, which tracks relatively closely with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, although the link between the two events is not conclusive.

Last year, agents from the U.S. Border Patrol seized just 1.9 million pounds of marijuana. While that may seem like a large amount, it actually constitutes a 24 percent reduction from the 2.5 million pounds seized in 2011. On the domestic side, Mexican authorities in 2013 seized just 1,070 tons, which marks the lowest amount since 2000.

"Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90," Nabor, a 24-year-old pot grower in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, told NPR. "But now they're paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It's a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they'll run us into the ground."

Another nail in the coffin for drug cartels is the gradual trend of leniency towards marijuana in Mexico. As of 2009, the country decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

There is no particular reason that the production and sale of a crop should be associated with violent mayhem and empowering criminals whose comparative advantage in life is the ruthless use of force. Decisions by governments across the globe (largely led by the U.S.) to outlaw certain substances have created that bizarre and awful situation when it comes to marijuana and other drugs, and those governments have the power to change that situation. Thankfully, there are some signs that the exercise of sense on the part of some states is making that change.