Ever since President Richard Nixon initiated schedules to designate most recreational drugs as illegal, America began a War on Drugs that has now stretched over four decades and several trillions of dollars. The results however have been catastrophic as not only has drug use increased over that time, but prisons have swelled with individuals who were incarcerated for victimless crimes, and violent cartels now control not only drug traffic and distribution, but also elected officials and entire countries.
In 1996 California helped open a crack in the government’s absolute stranglehold in drug prohibition by voting in the first medical marijuana legislation. And over the next 19 years, 23 states had passed laws allowing for the regulated medicinal use of the drug. This first step was then followed by the full legalization of cannabis in both Colorado and Washington in 2013.
And now 3 years later, something very interesting is occurring which has mirrored the results of ending alcohol’s prohibition during the 1920’s. Because once both drugs were removed from legal restrictions, most crimes tied to the illegal distribution of both alcohol and marijuana began to dry up.
The Mexican drug cartels are finally meeting their match as a wave of cannabis legalization efforts drastically reshapes the drug trafficking landscape in the United States. It turns out that as states legalize cannabis use and cultivation, the volume of weed brought across the border by Mexican drug cartels dramatically decreases — and is putting a dent in their cash flow.
A newly-released statistical report from the U.S. Border Patrol shows a sharp drop-off in cannabis captured at the border between the United States and Mexico. The reduction in weed trafficking coincides with dozens of states embracing cannabis use for both medical and recreational purposes.
In fact, as the Washington Post reports, cannabis confiscations at the southern border have stumbled to the lowest point in over a decade — to only 1.5 million pounds. That’s down from a peak of four million pounds in 2009. – Anti-Media
Yet there has also been a side benefit to the legalization of marijuana that even the Federal government could not have foreseen. In just the first two years for the two states (Colorado and Washington) who legalized the recreational use of Cannabis, tax revenues have exceeded $200 million. And if extrapolated over the 50 states and the District of Columbia, could account for $3 billion in additional revenues per year.
Graphic courtesy of Nerdwallet
History has shown that you cannot legislate morality, and if people want something bad enough they will attempt to get it whether it is legal or not. This has been true in regards to alcohol, abortions prior to Roe v. Wade, raw milk, and of course, narcotics. And the only real way to fight a war against drugs is not to penalize and punish the users, but to regulate it as best as possible because the only part that the people will accept are laws facilitating safety rather than laws creating prohibitions.
Kenneth Schortgen Jr is a writer for Secretsofthefed.com, Examiner.com, Roguemoney.net, and To the Death Media, and hosts the popular web blog, The Daily Economist. Ken can also be heard Wednesday afternoons giving an weekly economic report on the Angel Clark radio show.