One of the main selling points for proponents of Washington's I-502 and similar pot legalization initiatives in Colorado and Oregon is that they'd dismantle the black market for weed within those states.
A study released Wednesday from the Mexican Competitiveness Institute, a south of the border think tank, attempts to quantify just what affect legalization initiatives in the United States could have on Mexican drug cartels. Not surprisingly, the study suggests Mexican drug cartels would likely take a profit hit from such efforts, though it indicates pot legalization might open new doors for Mexican marijuana growers as well.
The study, titled "If Our Neighbors Legalize," says legalization efforts in Washington, Oregon and Colorado could cut Mexican drug cartels' earnings from U.S. smuggling by as much as 30 percent. But where profits might be lost on one front, the study goes on to suggest that Mexican drug cartels would likely attempt to get into the legal U.S. pot market, potentially mitigating losses.
The study by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute, "If Our Neighbors Legalize," assumes legalization in any state would allow growers there to produce marijuana relatively cheaply and create an illicit flow to other states, where the drug could be made available at cheaper prices and higher quality than Mexican marijuana smuggled across the international border.
The report, based on previous studies by U.S. experts including those at the RAND Corporation, assumes Mexican cartels earn more than $6 billion a year from drug smuggling to the United States.
It calculates the hypothetical, post-legalization price of marijuana produced in Oregon, Washington and Colorado and sold within those states and smuggled to other states. It then assumes that U.S. purchasers would choose domestic marijuana if it were sold cheaper than the current price of Mexican marijuana.
The Mexican government has said that drug legalization in some U.S. states could make it harder to prosecute growers and dealers in Mexico, because they would be producing a product potentially destined for a place where it is legal.
The AP story also notes that opponents of pot legalization contend that the study backs up one of their main beefs with legalization efforts in Oregon, Colorado and Washington - that it would turn these states into weed dealers for the rest of the country.