U.S. Marijuana Legalization has Murky Influence at Home and Abroad
December 13th, 2012
The recent decriminalization of marijuana possession in both Colorado and Washington state has left in its political wake more confusion than clarity, which almost seems appropriate for any legislation regarding weed. Nobody really knows how the federal government will react and even local law enforcement, who have sworn to uphold both federal and state laws, have had to draw lines in the proverbial sand. There is no question that these laws, if they survive long enough to see the development of a controlled marijuana economy, will add much needed revenue streams to Colorado and Washington. But one of their other primary selling points may stand on unstable ground.
The new laws were supposedly intended to curb the growth of drug cartels, primary operating out of Mexico. That claim has recently come under some scrutiny by a recent article in The Atlantic which argues that Mexican cartels have their hands in many other drug trades, and that losing access to marijuana sales won’t hurt them in the least. In fact, the market has been hostile to drug cartels for some years now and in response “the cartels diversified their portfolios (to borrow language applied to other multinational, multibillion dollar operations); the Mexican suppliers have already been edged out of the local markets in the two new green states.”
In effect, it may be too late for these new laws to influence the bottom line of the Mexican drug lords.
But foreign officials see the laws in a different light. As Time reports, “Entire countries may soon follow Colorado’s example, forcing an international review of the issue. Uruguayan President José Mujica is pushing to legalize marijuana by the end of the year — legislation there would even make the government the drug’s sole legal seller — and there is strong support for reforms in Argentina and Brazil.” The world isn’t waiting around to see exactly how the laws develop or even how they may affect illicit drug sales. Instead, they are taking these new laws as a sign that antidrug efforts may need to be rethought. Jorge Castañeda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico, asked over Mexican radio: “Why are we busting trucks of marijuana in Mexico when they are selling it over the counter in some U.S. states?”