Donald Trump

Trump Says He Wants to Stop Drugs Flowing Over the Border. Marijuana Legalization Would Do That

Drugs aren't coming in from Mexico at an unprecedented rate, thanks to legalization in a handful of states.

|

JIM LO SCALZO/UPI/Newscom

If Donald Trump wants to stop the flow of drugs into the United States from Mexico—as he said he did during his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night—then there is one proven way to do it: let more states legalize marijuana.

That's not what Trump proposed, of course. His supposed solutions are all about building walls, growing the power of the federal government's drug enforcement arms, and continuing a failed policy of prohibition.

"We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth," Trump said. He later claimed that our current un-walled borders allow "drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate."

Except, no. Drugs aren't pouring into the country at an unprecedented rate (neither, too, are immigrants, but that's another story). In fact, border agents are reporting that flow of drugs has been slowed, even reversed, by the legalization of marijuana in a handful of American states.

The Washington Post reported last year that "marijuana seizures along the southwest border tumbled to their lowest level in at least a decade."

"Agents snagged roughly 1.5 million pounds of marijuana at the border, down from a peak of nearly 4 million pounds in 2009," the Post reported. "The DEA has even found evidence that the flow of illegal marijuana is starting to reverse, with some cases of U.S. marijuana being smuggled into Mexico."

A marijuana grower in Mexico described a similar economic phenomenon in December 2014 to NPR News, and blamed the legalization of marijuana in some parts of the United States.

"Two or three years ago, a kilogram of marijuana was worth $60 to $90," the anonymous grower told NPR. "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."

Trump's plans to funnel more money into the War on Drugs, and perhaps even to crack down on states where marijuana has been legalized, are a gift to the drug cartels, which benefit from higher prices created by prohibition in the United States.

"It's important to understand that the Drug War created the cartels, not the other way around," David Bienenstock, the head of content at High Times and a reporter with 15 years of experience covering marijuana markets and the federal government's war on those markets, told me in an interview last month. "We've been wasting trillions of dollars for nearly 50 years on wholly ineffective, and even counterproductive, efforts to stop the flow of drugs into the United States, and those efforts have only made the cartels bigger, stronger, and more dangerous.

Trump should know that. "You have to legalize drugs to win that war," Trump said at a luncheon hosted by the Miami Herald in 1990. "You have to take the profit away from these drug czars."

Failing to understand—or perhaps failing to remember—how the economics of the drug trade work is another example of how Trump's economic policy is setting the country up to fail. His address on Tuesday night was the most "presidential" moment of his brief time in office, but it might have accomplished little more than normalizing policy ideas that will reverse the limited progress achieved by some states on ending drug prohibition, leaving Americans less free and drug cartels more powerful than ever.

Advertisement

NEXT: 12 Blatant Lies in Trump's Speech to Congress That the Fact-Checkers Missed

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. …there is one proven way to do it: let more states legalize marijuana.

    There is another way. A big, beautiful and totally effective border wall that extends higher than the reach of any ladder or airplane.

  2. What about other drugs besides mj flowing in?

    I agree overall legalization is best. I am just not sure if the few states is the reason with say respect to all drugs and not just mj

    1. Yeah. The reason the flow of marijuana has lessened over the years is that the cartels saw this coming and gradually shifted their operations to meth production, among other things. Legalization of pot hasn’t really effected their bottom line.

      1. That is what i wondered. Because in the article the vibe i got was for MJ only. This does not mean the drug flow have been reduced necessarily because MJ has.

      2. Yes, the cartels ramped-up production of narcotics as a hedge against marijuana losses. But they have also increased marijuana production on our side of the border. Not enough to replace lost revenues entirely, but, as we agree, with the increased supply of other drugs, the effect on their bottom line hasn’t been that dramatic.

  3. Eric missed the “poisoning our youth” part of the quote. Legalizing doesn’t solve that perceived problem.

    1. Um…need mj purity regs?

  4. In fact, border agents are reporting that flow of drugs has been slowed, even reversed, by the legalization of marijuana in a handful of American states.

    Reversing the flow would mean drugs are going from the US to Mexico. I don’t think that’s happening (at least not the net flow). I think he meant the increase in flow has been reversed, but that’s the same as the flow slowing, so that would be redundant anyway.

    /pendantry

  5. Here’s one unintended possible consequence of a Trump-administration crackdown on marijuana: Some (many?) Never-Trumpers who are not ordinarily interested in this topic will get behind (or at least no longer oppose) legalization and re-scheduling efforts, in an attempt to spite and embarrass him and Sessions.

    BTW, Trump, by making a sharp distinction between medical and recreational use, has positioned himself, perhaps unwittingly, to re-categorize marijuana as a schedule 2 drug. Likewise psilocybin, which is the only effective treatment for cluster headaches.

    1. Not sure about psilocybin (link?), but clinical trials with LSD in low doses have over an 80% effective rate with cluster headaches.

  6. Failing to understand?or perhaps failing to remember?how the economics of the drug trade work is another example of how Trump’s economic policy is setting the ???? ?? ?? ??? ??????
    ???? ????????? country up to fail. His address on Tuesday night was the most “presidential” moment of his brief time in office, but it might have accomplished little more than normalizing policy ideas that will reverse the limited progress achieved by some states on ending drug prohibition, leaving Americans less free and drug cartels more powerful than ever.

  7. I think he means taking profit away from drug lords, not “drug czars.” Although eliminating the office of the drug czar would also be a YUGE step in the right direction. If you don’t want criminals smuggling drugs into the country, the solution is simple. So simple, in fact, that even Donald Trump understand it, even if he refuses to acknowledge it. Legalize the damn drugs and let duly licensed, regulated, and taxed businesses take over. So many problems solved.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.