A study by a respected Mexican think tank says proposals to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State could cut Mexican drug cartels’ earnings from traffic to the U.S. by as much as 30 percent, the Associated Press reports. Opponents said the proposals could offer opportunities for cartels to operate in the U.S. and replace profits lost to a drop in international smuggling. The ballot measures would allow adults to possess small amounts of pot under a regimen of state regulation and taxation. Polls show tight races in Washington and Colorado, with Washington’s appearing to have the best chance of passing. Oregon’s measure, with the fewest regulations, does not appear likely to pass.
The study by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute, “If Our Neighbors Legalize,” assumes that 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 that Mexican cartels earn more than $6 billion a year from drug smuggling to the U.S. Opponents of the ballot measures said the study bolsters one of their principal objections, that it will turn any state with legal marijuana into a producer for the rest of the country.