Legalizing Pot in California Won't Hurt Cartels

Mexican gangs will still make plenty off the rest of the country
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2010 10:19 AM CDT
Legalizing Pot in California Won't Hurt Cartels
Florida Attorney General candidate Jim Lewis, who is running on a platform of legalizing marijuana, holds a sign during a campaign rally on October 12, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.   (Getty Images)

Fans of California’s Proposition 19 like to argue that it would be a major blow to Mexican drug runners, but that’s just not true, according to a group of drug policy researchers. A new report from the nonpartisan Rand Corp. finds that even if legal marijuana displaced the illicit stuff in California, it would only put a 2%-4% dent in the cartels’ overall export revenue, because the rest of the country would still be smoking Mexican.

To hurt the cartels overall, California would have to export its weed to the rest of the country, but “it’s very hard to imagine that the feds would sit idly by” and let them do that, one researcher tells the LA Times. However, there is some good news: Researchers say the government has overestimated cartel revenues almost tenfold—they say the gangs make about $1.5 billion in the US, compared to the government’s $14.3 billion estimate. (Read more drug cartel stories.)

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