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Why The Legal Cannabis Industry Is The Best Solution For Drug Smuggling

April 5th, 2019 photo/istock/Mihajlo Maricic

By Roger Malespin

 The border wall that has remained the cornerstone of President Trump’s political career is a poor idea for many reasons, but perhaps none more than the fact that it will do little and less to stop illegal drug smuggling from Mexico. In fact, considering the state of the black market today, the increasing pressure on cartels, and the falling revenue of the smuggling trade, the best solution has been and will continue to be a safe and legal marijuana industry in the U.S.

Why is that? Well for starters we can look at the data on marijuana smuggling over the past 5 years. According to David Bier of the Cato Institute, the amount of marijuana seized at the border has decreased an astounding 78% in that time. This is the the latest part in a snowball effect that began that in 2013, by which 20 states and Washington DC had made medical marijuana legal, and Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational.

Some might say that stronger enforcement and additional agents at the border were the reason, but that claim doesn’t hold up. Between 2003-2009 the border patrol built over 500 miles of fencing along the border, 10ft tall or more, but it has a negligible effect on drugs seized. Additionally, the amount of agents was doubled and resulted in a minor increase in volume of overall seizure, but the average amount of seizures per agent remained the same. This means the agency’s approach was not more effective and they still were not focused on how a lot of the marijuana comes over the border, which bring us to the next point - points of entry.

Marijuana is by far the most lucrative drug the cartels sell because although it is cheap it is much more common to use than other drugs including cocaine. Marijuana is also very bulky and cannot be effectively concealed in cars and trucks, so the cartels try smuggle it through non-entry points i.e. between border crossings. It is troublesome and risky to smuggle anything through the desert that way, and other drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl are more compact and much easier to conceal in vehicles. Drugs are easier to smuggle if the smuggler has a legal passport, which is why a border wall is the wrong strategy. 

 So if the border patrol’s agent surge and border walls are not effective in bringing the numbers down, what does that leave? Clearly it is the legal marijuana market. The black market has taken a tremendous hit from legalization as the majority of medical and recreational users no longer buy from it in most areas. The cartels are facing greater internal and external pressure than ever recently, and the arrest of conviction of El Chapo is a big loss for the Sinolas. The nearly 80% drop in profits from marijuana smuggling has lead to cartels considering if marijuana is a worthwhile and profitable commodity to smuggle anymore.

 It is clear that legalizing marijuana has been of great economic benefit to states who have implemented it while simultaneously being the most effective weapon against the economy of the black market. It is getting to the point where the cartels most lucrative product is no longer needed by its largest buyer. This isn’t the result of increased border patrols or walls - it’s the result of implementing a legal marijuana industry which can deliver quality product without any legal ramifications. Nationwide decriminalization will only make things better for us and worse for the black market.

 References

 https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/how-legalizing-marijuana-securing-border-border-wall-drug-smuggling

 https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/201/~/statistics---drug-seizures

 https://reason.com/reasontv/2019/02/22/legal-weed-did-more-to-stop-drug-smuggli

 https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats

 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/01/06/marijuana-legal-states-medical-recreational/4343199/