Oct 09, 2014
There is a lot of chatter online about legal marijuana stopping drug cartels in Mexico after years of violence. It has been one of the mainstays of the effort to get marijuana legalized, but is it really true?
While legal marijuana is certainly putting pressure on the cartels, many advocates seem to forget that laws do not bind these cartels. As such, it does not matter what they sell. In some ways, it might actually make the situation worse.
Those familiar with the cocaine and violence of the late 70’s and early 80’s in Miami might recognize that many of the same introductory factors are coming into play. For instance, cocaine became a primary product simply because weed became too burdensome to transport economically. Sure, the demand for it was there, but eventually, the costs and risks involved with transport made smuggling it pointless.
As such, smugglers and cartels began to focus on cocaine. It was a lot more expensive for users to buy cocaine for the same price and risks during transport, which offset the biggest problem with transporting illegal marijuana. Further, there was an equal or greater demand for cocaine, which made moving the inventory quickly all the more motivating. From a business perspective, if money is not coming in, it is going out.
So what does that have to do with legal marijuana stopping drug cartels today? Simple: cartels will do what they did back then. They will just shift to a new product in a perhaps easier market.
That is not to say cartels will go back to cocaine. Even though cocaine still has a hefty market, crystal meth addiction and opiate addiction are skyrocketing. The market for heroin is surging, and with crystal meth so easy and cheap to produce, it makes far more sense for the cartels to shift to a smaller, growing market with bigger profit margins than sticking with a large but shrinking market for a good that is less profitable but carries the same degree of risk.
Let’s be real about this: the cartels are not going anywhere. As long as a demand for these other products exists, addiction runs rampant, and there are people willing to spend a lot of money to get them, it does not matter if a more lucrative product line replaces a formerly-successful-yet-declining one. How many companies have made that shift in the past?
The truth is, while legal marijuana and recreational marijuana are not causing rioting and bloodbaths in the streets like some thought it would, it is certainly not going as smoothly, either. Therefore, the natural tendency for supporters is fear of that hard-fought privilege being taken away, causing them to grasp for straws wherever they can, looking for tangential “proof” that the idea is still a good one.
That is not only irrelevant; it is also not necessarily true.
What are your thoughts? Do you think recreational or legal marijuana stopping cartels is possible eventually, or is it just wishful thinking? Let us know in the comments below!