Legal Marijuana is Reducing the Cross-Border Drug Trade

Bloomberg News reports something that was easily predictable, that as more and more states legalize marijuana either for medical or recreational uses, the amount of pot crossing the border is decreasing, along with the influence, wealth and violence of the cartels that control it.

With marijuana now permitted in some form in 23 U.S. states, the usual flow of pot from south to north has slowed and, to a growing degree, reversed. This was never imagined as a benefit of Nafta. Now, the expanding U.S. pot industry is transforming the drug distribution patterns of the notorious cartels—forcing them to deal more exclusively in heroin, for example—and leading to both cultural and economic change in Mexico’s own consumption of marijuana. Two opportunities may arise: a business boom for legal pot producers in the U.S. and the chance to concentrate the drug war on far more deadly substances…

In the past, only a sixth of cannabis consumed in the U.S. was grown within the 50 states; today that’s up to at least one-third, according to the United Nations. Pot from Colorado and California has started to displace the low-grade stuff that’s long flowed in by truck, tunnel, human mule, and boat from Mexico. Marijuana seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at California border crossings totaled 132,075 pounds in fiscal 2014, half of the amount five years earlier.

Colorado weed carries such cachet in both the U.S. and Mexico that entrepreneurs like Shawn Lucas, founder of a Denver grow-equipment supplier called Dutch Hort, say it could one day be a global brand. The state’s burgeoning export prowess has already irked Nebraska and Oklahoma, where marijuana is still illegal. They claim a rise in crime related to pot from their neighbor and, in December, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to shut down Colorado’s pot production. In Mexico City, young men mingling at an outdoor market and hawking mota—or pot—namecheck brands popular north of the border. By 2020, if marijuana were fully legalized, American sales might reach $35 billion, says Matt Karnes, a former media analyst at First Union Securities who now runs New York-based cannabis researcher GreenWave Advisors. That’s not much less than the $38.5 billion Americans spent at pizza restaurants last year…

The drug war isn’t over. Yet there has been an historic change at the border. The fight can now focus on heroin and other deadly substances. The toll of the war on marijuana has been huge in terms of security and lives. Decades of prohibition never slowed the flow of pot from Mexico; legalization did. The choice is now who controls that flow: an unnamed dealer in Juárez or a legalized cross-border industry.

If it were legal everywhere, most of the negative externalities of the drug market would be eliminated. Black markets inevitably create violence. You don’t see Seagram’s and Budweiser having violent turf wars over distribution of alcohol, but we did during prohibition. We’ve still learned nothing from that.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    American sales might reach $35 billion, says Matt Karnes, a former media analyst at First Union Securities who now runs New York-based cannabis researcher GreenWave Advisors. That’s not much less than the $38.5 billion Americans spent at pizza restaurants last year…

    And when sales of the former go up, so do sales of the latter. I told you before that legal pot was a plot by Big Cheese.

  • caseloweraz

    By 2020, if marijuana were fully legalized, American sales might reach $35 billion, says Matt Karnes, a former media analyst at First Union Securities who now runs New York-based cannabis researcher GreenWave Advisors.

    I remember seeing that figure years ago as the value of the trade in illegal marijuana. (Granted, my memory might be flawed on this point.) I also remember reading that one of the tobacco companies had trademarked “Acapulco Gold.”

  • fleetfootphilo

    Anybody else concerned that we will now just shift the most burden onto those using/possessing harder drags? Sure, the pot stigma will be gone, but now we be able to harass those with ‘the real evil drugs’ (which, includes, I am sure, psychedelics, many of which are safer than alcohol)…no restoration of Fourth Amendment rights, no end of police stops using possession of ‘illegal’ substances as a pretext to stop all of us whenever they want or come charging into our houses, and no end to the cartels, which pin their business model on selling whatever is prohibited????

    America, man, you just gotta do EVERYTHING in the most ridiculous way possible, don’t you?

  • Die Anyway

    Just as Ed has said about SSM, legal pot will become an accepted norm and life in America will go on (with fewer people in jail). A few prudes will still get their panties in a twist but it will be like the guy yelling bible verses on the street corner, most people will ignore them.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    “as more and more states legalize marijuana either for medical or recreational uses, the amount of pot crossing the border is decreasing, along with the influence, wealth and violence of the cartels that control it.”

    This has astonished me. I eagerly await the results of research into carrying an umbrella vs. rates of getting rained on!

  • jefferylanam

    I told you before that legal pot was a plot by Big Cheese Cheeto.

    FIFY

  • Alverant

    Wouldn’t Budweiser have to distribute alcohol before it can have a turf war over it? All they sell is urine-colored water.

  • http://onhandcomments.blogspot.com/ left0ver1under

    If it were legal everywhere, most of the negative externalities of the drug market would be eliminated. Black markets inevitably create violence. You don’t see Seagram’s and Budweiser having violent turf wars over distribution of alcohol, but we did during prohibition.

    Ah, but there’s the rum…I mean, rub. Corporations don’t and can’t control the marijuana trade, which is why government puppets do their masters’ bidding and try keep it illegal wherever possible. If big tobacco companies controlled marijuana production, it would have been legalized decades ago.

    When England had prohibition, gin was cheap and the choice of the middile class and poor, and was illegal. Wine was legal, but only the wealthy could afford it. Guess which people were labelled criminals and who weren’t? It was for the same reason booze is legal but marijuana isn’t.

  • spamamander, internet amphibian

    Here in Washington there is a turf war going on RIGHT NOW … right on my front lawn! Two opposing mary jane dealers duking it out… no… wait… the dude running for Taco Bell got home. It’s all good.

  • Al Dente
  • sigurd jorsalfar

    I saw a former DEA agent or similar official (I forget now) interviewed on one of those Sunday morning shows about 10 or 15 years ago admit that the drug war has totally failed. His conclusion? “That doesn’t mean you just quit.” So yeah of course they didn’t learn the lesson from the Prohibition era because they don’t want to learn that lesson, Ed.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    ” So yeah of course they didn’t learn the lesson from the Prohibition era because they don’t want to learn that lesson, Ed.”

    Actually, they have learned that for so long as they will pretend to give a fuck about it, they can still draw a paycheck–and not a small one.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty — Survivor

    Um… DUH?

  • Kermit Sansoo

    You folks seem to think that authorities are too dumb to “know that the drug war was a failure”. Nonsense. They simply couldn’t come right out and explain its real functions:

    1. They got to throw millions of people in jail, especially colored folk, Mexicans, and jazz musicians.* Authoritarians live to punish people.

    2. They had just about reached the point were confiscating private property had been normalized even against middle class white folks. What are they gonna do now?

    3. Think of all of those people gainfully employed jailing folks for having fun. Now what? Modus, any ideas?

    .

    * The original targets. Decent people never did stop drinking booze, so Prohibition wasn’t entirely satisfactory.