Is Legalizing Marijuana Really A Threat To Drug Cartels?

Organized crime seeks new ways stand firm

MEXICO.- Currently in the US, there are four states that voted in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska have already given their green light for this, as well as 8 other states that promise to follow in their footsteps before the end of the year.

According legalizing advocates, "the real war against drug trafficking is this one": Decriminalizing substances that were once considered taboo, created cruel and bloodthirsty organizations, as a way to reach consumers.

Image: Vivelo Hoy
Image: Vivelo Hoy

Those who defend marijuana's free intake mentioned that legalization is the only path to wind down drug trafficking, given that logic dictates that if drugs weren't illegal, there will be no need for these types of organizations.

However, "like any corporation, cartels are looking for ways to adapt in order to compete with the capitalist structure," pointed out Fusion's journalist Rafael Fernández de Castro, suggesting that even after marijuana is legalized, organized crime will find a way to remain within the system.

Taking this as reference, it's important to ask what actions the leaders of Mexican drug dealing will take upon in order to compensate the monetary loss that legalizing marijuana has created regarding the United Sates business scheme.

Image: Growlandia
Image: Growlandia

Firstly, there aren't any figures that detailed the loss, proving if this is significant or not. The United States mentioned that Mexico is its number drug provider. Not so much in marijuana, but in heroine. Nonetheless, 30% of the drugs exported by organized crime in Mexico, are loads of marijuana.

With that said, will legalizing marijuana have a real impact in criminal structures? Undoubtedly it will, just not in the way it is expected.

The article, "How Mexican Drug Cartels Are Reacting To Marijuana Legalization In The US", mentions that they are some 'indicatives that this criminal organizations are adjusting to market changes, readjusting their targets to domestic intake, diversifying their product offer and exploring areas that haven't been exploited in a criminal manner."

An example on how illegal marijuana is still good business, even in states where its consumption is legal, is its pricing, given that legal drugs are way more expensive.

Image: Mexico CNN
Image: Mexico CNN

DEA spokesperson Lawrence Payne, also believes that cartels haven't run out of options just yet. One of these options is to smuggle medicinal marijuana (stronger and expensive) from the US into Mexico for clients who are looking for a stronger experience. And if that were to fail, data shows that there is a whole new business for selling methamphetamines.

A 2014 report showed an increased number of labs dedicated to the production of methamphetamines. In 2012, Mexican authorities took down a total of 259 clandestine cooks.

This same report underlines how the border is confiscating more and more shipments of crystal and heroine. An increase 9.8% and 5.2% respectively in one year. And let us not forget that this is just one of organized crime's source of income, as they also have extortion, kidnapping and charges for use of land.

Legalizing marijuana could stop it from being smuggled, maybe, if it became decriminalized through the entire US, however, it would hardly stop crime by itself.

Image: Starmedia
Image: Starmedia

National Commissioner Against Addictions, Manuel Mondragon, mentioned during an interview with El Universal last year:

"You would like to think that a criminal organization would meet its end for not handling marijuana. But what about designed drugs, like cocaine, or poppy plantations that set (Mexicans) us as the first or second producers worldwide? Are criminal organizations going to end? Please. What about those other violent groups that are dedicated to different types of crime?".

Months after this publication came out, data that supported the Commissioner's hypothesis seemed to answer a question that is much feared and that today, we want to ask again. Is organized crime indestructible? It evolves and changes leaders, but no measure seems to be able to fight it, it's truly a problem that needs to be attack to its root.

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elizabeth.rosales@sandiegored.com

zyanya.figueroa@sandiegored.com

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