Biggest blow to Mexico drug cartels
A Mexican study says legalizing marijuana for recreational use in the US - an issue on the ballot in three US states - could cut the proceeds of Mexican drug gangs by 30 percent.
Martin Jelsma, an expert on drug policy in Latin America at the Transnational Institute in the Netherlands who supports legalization measures, says that the revenue loss would not be insignificant for Mexican groups – as it is estimated that they depend on marijuana sales for about a quarter of total revenue. But there is still cocaine and heroin. “It is clear for Mexican cartels that cocaine and heroin are the areas where in terms of export they earn the most,” says Mr. Jelsma.
(And in looking at the “big picture” of the war on drugs, Mr. Hope said in an interview this summer for The Christian Science Monitor cover story that the discussion of legalization of marijuana really only has implications for Mexico. “Although marijuana has taken center stage [in the debate], it is pretty much meaningless in any country except in Mexico. The only large exporter [of marijuana] in the region is Mexico. If everyone legalizes it tomorrow, in Guatemala homicides would go down by zero and nothing,” he told me.)
But, Jelsma points out, even if drug violence in Latin America were to persist, the political implications of a “yes” in Washington, or Colorado, or Oregon could be far-reaching. “The indirect effect could be even bigger in the sense that if such a thing happens in the US it would also increase [the] possibility and political space for things to happen in Latin America itself, also in the case of Mexico,” he says.
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