The study, "If Our Neighbors Legalize"
, claims that if marijuana were legalized in some U.S. states and domestic production allowed, the result would be increased competition against the cartels and the price would drop, cutting profits for the cartels. The study maintains that the draconian and expensive prohibitionist policies in the U.S. only increase profits for the cartels since there is limited competition on the black market.
The militaristic approach taken throughout Central America is increasing the ferocity of the cartels in response. They have built up the equivalent of private armies to protect and police their own market and defend against the state.
There are marijuana legalization ballot measures in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. The measures are meeting stiff opposition including criticism of the Mexican study. However a RAND Corp studied legalization in California and estimated that it would cut the cartels' profits by 20%. The ballot measures would allow adults to possess small amounts of pot under state regulation and taxation.
Polls show that the race to pass the measures is tight in both Washington and Colorado. Oregon, which would impose the fewest regulations, does not seem destined to pass its measure. Opponents of the bills say that legalization of marijuana in one state would turn that state into a producer for much of the country. This is an assumption the study makes as well. Others point out that there may be a heavy crackdown and prosecution of movement of marijuana out of any state where it is legal and this could make costs go up again.
argue that the legalization of marijuana could actually provide new opportunities for cartels to enter the U.S. market and set up and control production in states where production is legalized. This could offset any profits lost in international smuggling.
Portugal decriminalized drug use starting a decade ago. The result has been a large decline in drug abuse and a less costlier, healthier, approach to drug use. Now all Portugal needs is a better functioning economy and less debt!
The U.S. takes a harsh even militaristic approach. The U.S. maintains military bases throughout Central America and trains security forces. However, these policies no doubt have in mind much more than control of drugs. The U.S maintains influence on the governments and protects commercial interests as has long been the case in Central America.