An Argument for Legalizing Marijuana Even Conservatives Can Rally Behind

Marijuana legalization in Uruguay, Colorado and Washington has sparked deliberation among many lawmakers who are curious about how similar legislation would affect other countries, including the crime-ridden barrios of Mexico.

Legislators in Mexico City submitted a proposal to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession last year, but the country's federal government has shown no sign of attempts to loosen up its tough stance on drug laws. Consequently, drug lords have capitalized on the substance's illegality and profited from their exclusive proprietorship. Despite Mexico's inability to quash rampant cartel-related crimes because of the federal government's refusal to ease its policies, the growing international push to legalize marijuana could subdue the power of drug lords, especially if the Mexican government recognizes how impactful state-regulated cannabis is. Doing that could help ease violence across the border and is the kind of result everyone should get behind, no matter your views on weed.

Here are three ways marijuana legalization could stop the growth of Mexican drug cartels:

1. Loss of Profits

Marijuana legalization in Colorado, Oregon and Washington could eliminate up to 30% of profits made by Mexican drug cartels, a study conducted by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute reveals. The possibility of federal authorization of recreational use of marijuana in the United States and Mexico could lead to steeper losses on the part of illegitimate crime groups. 

2. Strengthening of Government Institutions

Uruguay is the first Latin American country to legalize recreational possession and use of marijuana and will earn up to $40 million in government profits appropriated from the country's black market. Mexico, which has a black market marijuana trade system with estimated values ranging from $2 billion to $20 billion annually, could use those funds to reinforce and establish government institutions aimed at curtailing the use of harder substances like cocaine and heroin. More government revenue from marijuana profits could usher in free addiction treatment programs and hard drug enforcement agencies. 

3. Loss of Recruitment

Mexican drug cartels, including the notoriously ruthless Los Zetas, have infiltrated approximately 276 cities in the United States and are known to specifically target marijuana dealers for recruitment, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Considering the fact that marijuana is the most commonly purchased and sold controlled substance and that many of those illegitimate vendors sell cannabis almost exclusively, a complete nationalization of the marijuana industry would significantly deter recruitment efforts made by cartels in the United States. 

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Ramiro S. Fúnez

Ramiro is a Honduran-American political journalist, activist and foreign policy analyst earning his Master's degree in Politics at New York University. He graduated from St. John's University with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. Some of his previous political journalism experience includes work produced for the World Policy Institute, Americas Quarterly, North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), NY1 News, New York Daily News, El Diario La Prensa, Queens Chronicle, Queens Courier, Queens Tribune and several other media. Ramiro was born and raised in New York City and enjoys writing about and analyzing international politics and foreign affairs.

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