Marijuana, Money, and Mexico
Last week a few news sources picked up on a story that indicated U.S. drug use was funding Mexican drug cartels, and in turn, the violence associated with them. The stories reported that US marijuana use contributes about $8.5 billion dollars annually to Mexican drug traffickers. Of course, our current drug czar, John Walters, had plenty to say on the issue:
“The ability to have people purchase arms, corrupt institutions and pay assassins is fueled by the dollars of marijuana users in the United States, which is a huge, huge part of the detonator of crime and terror you’re seeing across Mexico, particularly along the U.S.-Mexico border”
“While the criminal organizations that are a threat to both of our countries make a lot of money off of heroin and cocaine and methamphetamine, the vast majority of their money to buy guns, bribe, corrupt and destroy lives is from marijuana.”
Walters’ solution is, of course, to crack down on this trade with more money and equipment, as well as by encouraging harsher penalties in US marijuana cases. Basically, more of the same.
But there is another option: tax and regulate marijuana here in the U.S.
A well-structured tax and regulate (T&R) scheme could:
- dramatically reduce the money being funneled to drug cartels, leading to a reduction in cartel violence;
- reduce our own spending on marijuana enforcement, freeing up resources for more pressing matters;
- help keep more than 800,000 Americans from being arrested for something 100 million of us have used;
- put $113 billion dollars into our dwindling economy (generating tax revenues on the order of $42 billion dollars).
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sensible reasons for taxing and regulating marijuana. Of course, all of these arguments have been espoused previously in some form, but they’re all still valid and true and need to be reiterated from time to time to remind people that there are other options. Very little in life is black-and-white, regardless of what John Walters may want us to believe.