How Regulating Marijuana Could End Mexico’s Drug War

Two must-read op-eds from last week explain why ending marijuana prohibition is perhaps the only effective way to curtail the ever-increasing violence plaguing Mexico:

In The Washington Post, Hector Aguilar Camín, publisher of the Mexican magazine Nexos, and Jorge G. Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister who teaches at New York University, write that California’s Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana for adults, “may, at long last, offer Mexico the promise of an exit from our costly war on drugs.”

The debate here is not framed in terms of personal drug use but rather whether legalization would do anything to abate Mexico’s nightmarish violence and crime. There are reasons to think that it would: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has said that up to 60 percent of Mexican drug cartels’ profits come from marijuana. While some say the real figure is lower, pot is without question a crucial part of their business. Legalization would make a significant chunk of that business vanish. As their immense profits shrank, the drug kingpins would be deprived of the almost unlimited money they now use to fund recruitment, arms purchases and bribes.

In addition, legalizing marijuana would free up both human and financial resources for Mexico to push back against the scourges that are often, if not always correctly, attributed to drug traffickers and that constitute Mexicans’ real bane: kidnapping, extortion, vehicle theft, home assaults, highway robbery and gunfights between gangs that leave far too many innocent bystanders dead and wounded. Before Mexico’s current war on drugs started, in late 2006, the country’s crime rate was low and dropping. Freed from the demands of the war on drugs, Mexico could return its energies to again reducing violent crime.

And in a piece published on FireDogLake and The Huffington Post, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson says U.S. officials need to stop funding Mexico’s drug war and instead “welcome the debate on marijuana prohibition,” — something our current drug czar has repeatedly spurned.

America’s policy for almost 70 years has been to keep marijuana—arguably no more harmful than alcohol and used by 15 million Americans every month—confined to the illicit market, meaning we’ve given criminals a virtual monopoly on something that U.S. researcher Jon Gettman estimates is a $36 billion a year industry, greater than corn and wheat combined. We have implemented laws that are not enforceable, which has thereby created a thriving black market. By denying reality and not regulating and taxing marijuana, we are fueling not only this massive illicit economy, but a war that we are clearly losing.

The latest Prop 19 poll shows the initiative ahead 47-43, so its likelihood of passing is still anyone’s guess. But if it does pass, Camín and Castañeda say Prop 19 will “enhance [Mexican President] Calderon’s moral authority in pressing President Obama” and allow the Mexican government “to more actively lobby the U.S. government for wider changes in drug policy.”

All the more reason for Californians to turn out and vote yes on 19 this November.

31 thoughts on “How Regulating Marijuana Could End Mexico’s Drug War”

  1. As long as people are constantly reminded to get to the polls. I can deffinatly see it passing. If the numbers show us slightly ahead and it is given that those who are for legalization are far more likely to keep their oppinion to themselves as opposed to those the self rightously pound their chest about keeping prohibition, then I dont see how the vote will fail in our favor.

    The prohibs are not afraid to reveal themselves. Consideration should be made to the numbers of shadow cannabis supporters who will make their voices heard through annonymous ballots.

    Please California. Vote yes for prop 19. Vote yes for freedom. Vote yes for your fellow Americans

  2. Agreed. If everyone gets out and votes ( and has no irrational fear of the gubment watching who or what you vote for), then all the closet pot smokers should turn this into a landslide in favor of legalisation, because you know, most everyone you know smokes pot.

  3. This is why people need to vote ‘Yes’ on Prop 19 and help our neighbors to the south… We need to see both Republicans and Dems in support of this …. Not a party issue, it’s a moral issue. Ending prohibition is the only way to truly weaken the cartels… But it goes both ways, the prison industrial/drug enforcement lobby want to keep the tax dollars flowing fighting this worthless and futile war on Cannabis.

  4. this is news I like to read. The United States must realize it is responsible for over 25,000 deaths in Mexico. May the blood of the innocent be on our government’s hands.

  5. This is a dumbass question!!! How could it when the real majority of users are using it recreationally?!?!? You can not seriously tell me that more than 40% of the US citizens that want these laws to take effect are just medical users! If it were for recreational use then yes, it may stop or end the mexican drug war, but then again BC Canada is kinda doing that already with their BC Budz… So either way you look at it the good stuff is still coming from our borders and not just for medical use!

  6. BCLover #5

    What the hell are you talking about? Prop 19 is not about medical use at all, it is about recreational use for responsible adults 21 and older!

    And yes it would end the mexican drug war by ending the illegal market cannabis is currently in, therefore taking all that money out of the hands of the criminals. No Money No War! Simple as that.

  7. Just like booze back in the thirties. This bill in California will turn the tide for all of America. What took so long and how will the laws effect those in the system for cannabis crimes? There is only the crimes committed by law enforcement that go unpunished. Can there be a national lawsuit against the D.E.A. and all the task forces that took our personel property and our freedom for their own greed? I know the bill will pass but there is no one talking about those in jail or on parole or probation. WHY? They are the people we should be tlking about. I will have so much respect for the cops after prop 19 passes because then the cops will be doing their job, not the job of politicians.

  8. As long as there are illegal drugs, there will be a black market. A first step in this battle is to legalize marijuana, because anyone looking at the facts can see that regulation of a massive market like that would help.

    The problem is, the cartels will start trying to push more coke and heroin down our throats. Whether we bite or not, I don’t know, but the problem will only be shifted until the black markets and their lucrative mark-ups go away.

  9. I’m pretty pissed about some people in Cali right now, who got their hands on some medicinal marijuana and who’s got a leg in the medicinal marijuana business, these people are now against Prop 19. I cant believe these same people were talking about compassion when demanding medicinal marijuana but now completely forgot about compassion when it comes to regular folks. I hate to send out negative vibes but these people are all hypocrites. How can you support medicinal marijuana but deny that same right to everyone else for recreational use, this is BS.
    From what I’m reading in the local papers, majority of medicinal marijuana businesses do not support Prop 19.

    Mark – good point dude. That’s exactly the problem with our government, they really believe that if drugs are made legal everyone will just jump on the crazy train and get high all the time on whatever they can get their hands on. Most of us already have access to pretty much any drug we want, but most of us are also choosing to not do harder drugs or not do drugs at all. Recreational use for responsible adults. I guess our government doesnt believe that we are or can be responsible adults when it comes to drugs.

    Free The Weed. Free The People.

  10. If Proposition 19 passes, it would mean that law enforcement will have new allies against dangerous drugs, unless law enforcement that favors prohibition becomes pigheaded.

  11. If enough pressure is applied in the right spot at the right time, the restrictive membrane we know as prohibition will rupture. Everyone who is in favor of this bill MUST VOTE YES on Prop 19 this November!

  12. I wonder if it becomes legal how will that effect the job market as far as random and pre-employment drug testing are concerned, as well as if the fed’s unwillingness to recognize a state passed law. If they will raid facilities in accordance with California state law, growing and selling marijuana. Interesting to see how it will all turn out. I myself am in favor of legalizing marijuana I am not able to smoke it because of my job situation, so this is a big factor for me. I see how making it medically legal hasn’t effected some businesses, they still do not recognize the prescription and will fire you if you fail a drug test. Yet it’s ok to have valium, prozac, oxycontin and other’s in your system, so long as you have a prescription.

  13. FreeTheWeed I completely agree with you that it’s bullsh*t they aren’t supporting prop 19, but there is a logical reason as for why. It is all about money.
    If prop 19 passes then there is no reason to keep dispensaries open since it could be sold by any business willing to get a license. For example; walgreens, local grocery store, cvs, Starbucks if they wish to become the leading “coffeehouse” of Cali.

    If prop 19 passes the price of cannabis will go from roughly $400 an ounce to as low as $25-$40 an ounce. There would be some tax on that as well, but my point is that it would be so cheap there would be no way for 90% of the dispensaries to stay open.

  14. Even if prop 19 doesnt pass, other countries should not give up the fight, they should put emense pressure on our government to stop this madness. We here in the US WILL NOT stop fighting this ruinous policies.

    Even if it does pass,other countries should not give up the fight, they should put emense pressure on our government to stop this madness. We here in the US WILL NOT stop fighting this ruinous policies.

    Either way, there will be those who will do thier damnedest to keep thier money train in tack.

  15. Cliff,. The cops are actually not our enemy. They will take a bullet for us. When prop 19 does pass, and it will, cops will have no choice but to leave cannabis users alone. Then cops will do the job they were trained for, protect and serve. As it is now they are doing the jobs of prohibitionists. I myself have no fear of the cops, it is the task Force and the D.E.A. that scare the hell out of me. I am almost 48 and have been using cannabis for over 34 years. I have been to jail over the years because of my own stupidity. I was raided last year for the first time in my life because of my ex wife. Not because of an overly gung ho cop, but a pissed off woman. Now when a cop calls my house, for any reason, they ask for my woman, not me. I wear pro cannabis shirts every day and they know I will never change. They choose to leave me alone because I am not a threat or am I against the police. I am against the D.E.A. and any and all supporters of such Idiots. I cannot wait till prop 19 passes.

  16. @KrazzyKid2006 – that is exactly what’s pissing me off, these people are making the money NOW from medicinal marijuana so they saying screw everybody else. Same people who screaming about compassion now want to keep the prohibition going for the sake of medicinal marijuana. So was it about compassion or about making money?
    Marijuana is a GOD given plant that grows from seed same as tomatoes or cucumbers. Every person in the world should have the right to grow it and to consume it same as we do with tomatoes and cucumbers.

    Free The Weed. Free The People.

  17. Medical Marijuana dispensaries are not fully protected by law. In the current situation, Medical Marijuana has very few rights which are extremely fragile and ready to be taken away without notice.
    They are the most heavily watch business in American history.
    The current laws made sure that they will not become anything like the corporate pharmaceutical companies that controls a big percentages of the federal government, major television networks, and most federal courts. It doesn’t make sense for medical marijuana dispensaries not to support Proposition 19. The law allows them to exist but it does not protect them from ambitious prosecutors and political mercenaries that were hired by crooked mayors, police chief, and sheriffs.
    Proposition 19 protect citizens. It gives you the right to have cannabis and the protection of the law.

    Cannabis is good! It provides hemp, food, fuel, medicine, and pleasure.

  18. According to Paul Armentano, in reply to a question I posted on Norml.com about availability if this is passed and if it’s purely in your home or outside say durring a BBQ as well, just for some clarification on my part. Paul replied not every tom dick and harry retail outlet will have, or be permited to apply for the resale licence. Prop19 is worded to pretty much have the exsiting dispenceries change over to full retail outlets. Esentially making the “Medical” aspect of it obsolete and making it available to everyone 21years of age and older.

    If Medical Marijuana dispenseries are truely afraid of loosing profit to BigBox stores they are just misinformed at the moment and need to be enlightened to what prop19 is really all about, before they make a horrible mistake by not supporting the bill and taking away every single much needed vote.

    If Norml and MPP were smart one or both would be printing up simple, easy to read flyers outlining the important parts of prop19 and how it will effect the dispenceries as well as every day citizens. Make sure all dispenceries get one and post it in shop in order to dispell all the misinformation the Prohibs are putting out there to divide the caucus.

    It may be a little foot work on MPP and Normls part with the help of voulonteers but we may only get O N E chance to get this right. Every effort must be made to seize the Golden Moment.

  19. Paul – even if what you saying is true, and the current medical dispensaries will be able to maintain some level of income if Prop 19 passes. We’d have to take into consideration that the prices will drop considerably, as far as I know, currently the prices in dispensaries are not that far from street prices. Another important point of Prop 19 is that everyone who wants can grow some, and believe me you can do a lot with 25 square feet for personal use.
    All I’m saying is that I been reading up on articles from different newspapers in Cali and it caught my attention that a lot of major dispensaries are rallying against Prop 19, and the latest polls around the state are showing that, only about 46% for Prop 19 and 44% against. Most analysts already saying that it’s too close of a margin for this to ever pass.
    I really hope that all people in California will put all their differences aside and forget about the greed for a moment and just VOTE YES ON PROP 19 for the greater good for all people in this country. There’s so much at stake here.

    Free The Weed. Free The People.

  20. The major dispensaries are putting themselves at risk if they are rallying against Prop 19. This sounds like some trickery to divide people up to get them to side along with the prohibitionist.

    Proposition19 protects citizens and their freedom.

  21. Major dispensaries rallying against Proposition 19 has got to be a hoax. If they want to raise a stink then how about wait after the law passes and see what would really happen. The law is making history. If the law doesn’t work then I am sure that the prohibitionist will be thrilled to see it go by saying “I told you so”.

  22. I’ve just read an article on NORML and I learned something new. Turns out to be, UN has it’s own drug czar and he’s a bigger dushbag than our own Gil K. So this dude is blocking any kind of change on a federal level for all UN countries. Did you know that?
    I’m just curious, how did it happen that 98% percent of people in government positions are prohibitionists?

    Free The Weed. Free The People.

  23. A Russian Drug Czar controlling the world? WTF????
    How could this happen?
    This is absolute treason if our country allows this to happen.
    This is not good.

  24. I’ve realized that the UN Drug Czar is old news, but that doesn’t mean that nothing will happen. It took a few years of public relation campaign by selected law enforcement officials and lots of propaganda commercials to bring about an assault of commando type raids, mandatory drug test, and property forfeiture on citizens. Nobody took it serious until 1991.
    People had no choice but to tolerate the change in society.

  25. Today’s WashPost (12 Sep’t. 10) story “The Inside Woman” tells how much money illegal marijuana is costing the nation. Ssurely you good folks are working on a story of how much we would spend for the same amount of Marijuana

  26. It is simply absurd to believe that the cartels are ignoring easily accessed profits today. That has to be the premise for the absurd thought that the cartels will just switch their efforts to other crimes.

    Even if it were true it would still be absurd to keep cannabis illegal to keep organized criminal syndicates from getting into ‘real’ mischief.

    There is not a large elasticity of demand for addictive drugs. I think we can rest assured that the cartels are selling every last gram of meth, heroin, and cocaine/crack and taking in every dollar of profit available to them as things stand. No the cartels won’t disappear but they will be a shadow of their former selves. What’s more the police will suddenly have a lot more time on their hands to concentrate on disrupting their other profit centers.

  27. @Joel – perhaps you have spoken too soon. I’ve looked up an article about this new russian appointee for UN Drug Czar position and he’s actually a lot better than the italian dush bag we had before in that position. This russian dude is talking about new sensetive drug policies around the world. Let’s hope this means discussions about legalization on a global level.

    Free The Weed. Free The People.

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