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Legalized marijuana increases competition for Mexican drug cartels

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Supporters of legalization, predict it will reduce the need to rely on marijuana smuggled across the border by criminal organizations. But others doubt drug cartels will give up on their No. 1 cash crop  without a fight.

“I think they’ll compete in an economic battle with American marijuana producers because it doesn’t’ serve their interest to get into a violent clash with Americans on U.S. soil,” said Howard Campbell, a professor at the University of Texas El Paso, and author of Drug War Zone.

“I think the Mexican cartels are rational business organizations.” said Campbell. “Even though they’re very violent in Mexico, what they’ll do with the growing legalization in the U.S. is figure out ways to get their product to the American consumer.”

There are already signs that cartels in Mexico are adapting.

“We’ve had one seizure that they’ve told us that it’s Mexican Kush, not very good quality, but it’s coming.

Experts expect the quality to improve as Mexican growers perfect their crop. The quantity smuggled across the border in the El Paso area is starting to increase now that violence has subsided in Juarez.

Law enforcement officers do not expect cartels in Mexico to get out of the marijuana business once U.S. consumers can find a legal supply.

“If all the states legalized it the Mexicans would somehow snake their way into it because they can produce a cheaper product. They can produce more of it,” said the undercover narcotics officer.

So is there any way to reduce the power of the cartels?

If increased demand empowers them .... ?

Which is to say, I have no freaking idea.

Well, the answer is economics. But the challenge is in the details.

One of the biggest reasons why the drug trade is violent is it's outlaw status: there's nothing to enforce contracts, rectify malfeasance, or resolve irreconcilable disputes except a death squad.  They can't turn to a court or the power of the state for justice.

If the cartels conduct their business legally then all conflict happens in the free markets, right?

Not necessarily, but when your business is above board (or at least close to the board) such that the profits of your business can participate in the lawful economy and the process of law can take your assets, you're probably not going to be doing alot of beheading.

Good point. Beheadings are economically costly!

Increased demand would incentivize more domestic production, right?

More domestic AND more Mexican.

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