Modern Day Narcos: Legal Cannabis Takes Power From Drug Cartels and Reduces Crime, Study Says
Here’s a question for you, Jeff Sessions: is the truth a bitter pill to swallow? Because that’s what we’re about to give you.
Contrary to Sessions’ claim that cannabis use increases violent crime, more evidence to prove him wrong. A new study entitled, Is Legal Pop Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime; when a state near the Mexican border legalizes medical cannabis, violent crime drops by an average of 13%. The study also says that most of the cannabis consumed by Americans is produced in Mexico, although the illegal trade is fully controlled by 7 big drug cartels.
“These laws allow local farmers to grow marijuana that can then be sold to dispensaries where it is sold legally,” says Evelina Gavrilova, an economist who co-authored the study. “These growers are in direct competition with Mexican drug cartels that are smuggling into the US. As a result, the cartels get much less business.”
This leads to a decrease in drug-related violence. “The cartels are in competition with one another,” Gavrilova explains. “They compete for territory, but it’s also easy to steal product from other cartels and sell it themselves, so they fight for the product. They also have to defend their territory and ensure there are no bystanders, no witnesses to the activities of the cartel.”
Gavrilova adds, ““Whenever there is a medical marijuana law we observe that crime at the border decreases because suddenly there is a lot less smuggling and a lot less violence associated with that.” The cartels also engage in the trade of other illicit substances and hard drugs such as heroine, cocaine, and methamphetamine although cannabis is the most lucrative product since it makes the most money in the US especially now that it’s legal in more states than ever. In Mexico, it’s around $75 to produce a pound of cannabis which can be sold for around $6,000 depending on how good it is.
To come up with the data, Gavrilova worked with other researchers to study FBI crime reports and homicide records from 1994 to 2012. What they found was that in border states, the change in regulations was the most significant in California which reflected a 15% decrease in violent crime. On the other hand, Arizona experienced the least benefits from any changes in the laws, but it showed a reduction of 7% in crime rates. Specifically, the crimes that were most affected were robbery (19% decrease), murder (10% decrease), and drug-trade related homicides by as much as 41%.
According to the researchers, the findings provide a new look into the tactics being used to reduce crime which are related to drug trafficking. The report comes at a time when US Attorney General Jeff Sessions had just repealed the Cole memo. “When the effect on crime is so significant, it’s obviously better to regulate marijuana and allow people to pay taxes on it rather than make it illegal,” says Gavrilova. “For me it’s a no brainer that it should be legal and should be regulated, and the proceeds go to Treasury.”
The study also implies that fully legalizing cannabis in Washington and Colorado will have an even more powerful effect on the drug trade once massive cannabis grow operations are established, which will further compete with drug cartels.
Drug Cartels Looking For Other Sources Of Green
Mexican drug cartels have been illegally growing cannabis in America’s forests, but the feds have had just a little success getting rid of these crops. Nowadays, California is considered ground zero for black market cannabis grows, as it’s home to 90% of the illegal cannabis farms in the nation. According to authorities, cartel-owned grows have been found even on lands owned by the government in Washington, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada – all states that have legalized medical cannabis. In 2016, Colorado decided to take things into their own hands by inking a joint venture with the Mexican Consulate to get rid of the cartels.
However, some cartels find that legalization is making other drugs more lucrative. Some Mexican producers have moved on from cannabis and instead turned to heroin and synthetic methamphetamine for profits. “The more you legalize marijuana, the more other drugs matter and become more profitable,” says former FBI agent Arturo Fontes, who is also an expert on Mexico’s drug cartels. “And right now nothing matters more than meth, heroin.”