Legalizing Weed Has Done What 1 Trillion Dollars and a 40 Year War Couldn’t

March 4, 2016   |   Nick Bernabe

The $1 trillion War on Drugs launched by President Nixon in 1971 created the Mexican drug cartels, now legalizing weed is killing them.

(ANTIMEDIA) The Mexican drug cartels are finally meeting their match as a wave of cannabis legalization efforts drastically reshapes the drug trafficking landscape in the United States. It turns out that as states legalize cannabis use and cultivation, the volume of weed brought across the border by Mexican drug cartels dramatically decreases — and is putting a dent in their cash flow.

A newly-released statistical report from the U.S. Border Patrol shows a sharp drop-off in cannabis captured at the border between the United States and Mexico. The reduction in weed trafficking coincides with dozens of states embracing cannabis use for both medical and recreational purposes.

In fact, as the Washington Post reports, cannabis confiscations at the southern border have stumbled to the lowest point in over a decade — to only 1.5 million pounds. That’s down from a peak of four million pounds in 2009.

Speaking to Anti-Media, Amir Zendehnam, host of the popular show, “In the Clear with Amir” on cannabis-oriented network Z420.tv, told us what he thinks of these new statistics:

“The economics of the cannabis industry show us that with healthy competition in the market, prices drop, quality rises, violence diminishes, and peaceful transactions increase. As constant new research emerges detailing the plant’s benefits, the negative stigma of using cannabis, both medicinally and recreationally, is diminishing, raising the demand for high quality product.

“Colorado, for example, is experiencing an economic boom that has never been seen in the state. The biggest issue in Colorado today is what to do with the huge amounts of revenue and economic success the state is gaining as a result of legalization. The Colorado model has proven that legalization reduces crime rates, cuts prices, pushes unfavorable competition out of the market, provides cleaner products with heightened transparency, and increases the standard of living for society as a whole.

“The only people hurt by continued societal acceptance and legalization of cannabis are the cartels and their friends, who have flourished for decades as a result of drug prohibition.

“As legalization spreads across the U.S. and the rest of the world like wildfire, I predict the industry will soon become one of the most dominant and beneficial industries humanity has ever seen.”

And the new competition from legal states has taken a big bite out of the entire illicit Mexican marijuana food chain. “Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90,” a cannabis farmer in Mexico said in an interview with NPR. “But now they’re paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It’s a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they’ll run us into the ground.”

Consumers are also starting to see the difference. Cheap low quality Mexican cannabis has become almost impossible to find in states that have legalized, while prices for high quality home-grown have steadily decreased.

This is good news for Mexico. A decreasing flow of cannabis trafficking throughout the country will likely lead to less cartel violence as revenues used to buy weapons dry up. Drug war-related violence in Mexico was responsible for an estimated 27,000 deaths in 2011 alone — outpacing the entire civilian death toll of the United States’ 15-year war in Afghanistan.

These developments reinforce criticism of the War on Drugs as a failed policy. Making substances like cannabis illegal simply drove the industry underground, helping make America the largest incarcerator in the world.

Legalizing cannabis will also save the United States a great deal of money. As Mint Press News reported:

“Since Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in June 1971, the cost of that “war” had soared to over $1 trillion by 2010. Over $51 billion is spent annually to fight the drug war in the United States, according to Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting more humane drug policies.”

Early reports from Colorado’s cannabis tax scheme show that revenues that will ostensibly help schools and rehabilitation efforts by flooding the state with cash. In fact, Colorado became the first state to generate more tax revenue from cannabis than alcohol in one year — $70 million.

But why stop with cannabis legalization? As more and more drug propaganda is debunked thanks to the legal weed movement, it’s time to also advocate for drug legalization across the board. The drug war’s criminalization of substances has done nothing to stem their use, and has simply turned addicts into criminals, even though plenty of experts agree that addiction is a health issue, not a criminal one.

“Pragmatism, Altruism, and Compassion” – Russell giving evidence to the House of Commons on Drugs policy

Posted by Russell Brand on Friday, February 26, 2016

Maybe it’s time for the U.S., Mexico, and other countries to embrace the Portuguese and Irish model of treating addiction to drugs like an addiction to alcohol or cigarettes, using rehabilitation — rather than incarceration — to confront the problem.

READ NEXT: 8 Reasons Why Ending The War On Drugs Would Make The World A Safer Place


This article (Legalizing Weed Has Done What 1 Trillion Dollars and a 40 Year War Couldn’t) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Nick Bernabe and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Nick Bernabe

Nick Bernabe founded Anti-Media in May of 2012. His topics of interest include civil liberties, the drug war, economic justice, foreign policy, geopolitics, government corruption, the police state, politics, propaganda, and social justice. He currently resides in Chula Vista, California, where he was born and raised.

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42 Comments

  1. I think they have finally realised they are losing another sourse of revenue!
    It took them long enough to work out that cash from the sales of the Wacky Bacci is better in their pockets rather than any cartel.
    But if the cartels bide their time, they will have all business back, because they know how greedy Governments get, and will be too expensive to buy legally.

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  4. Jack you are so right ! Just like the tax the government puts on tobacco,here in Canada we have countreban cigarettes all over!

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  5. When you look at a heroine / crack / meth / pill junkie next to a pot smoker, how can you even begin to pretend they are in the same class? The addiction rate, mental impairment and physical harm of the hard drug users is not somethng you should encourage. They are two very different drugs! One class you can easily OD on and die, one class you cant. One is addictive to the point youd shoot your own grandma for a fix, the other isnt even close. One contains toxic chemicals used in household cleaners and car engines, the other is organic as a carrot. Full scale legalization is not a good idea. Fear of being arrested alone already keeps a lot of people from falling into that addiction. Look at the photos, becore meth, after meth. That isnt an urban ledgend. Thats people and families being shredded apart. Not because they got arrested, but because that shit is the result of ingesting concentrated poisons that dictate your brain into really bad decision as it eats you alive from the inside out and your baby lays there dying from your drug induced neglect. Youre an asshole to encourage that.

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  6. James Moe Morency Your mom didn't think so last night. Weed rules! Down with the Cartels!

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  9. Cartels are not the only businesses suffering economically.
    Big pharma is losing ground as well. People are turning to non toxic cannabis for many minor ailments they used to rely on toxic drugs for.
    With readily available cannabis to turn to as an alternative to an angry, and often enough violent, response to a percieved offense, the prison industrial complex is threatened by a reduction in spontaneous acts of violence leading to incarceration. People who have weed to turn to when they're pissed off are much less likely to become violent to the point of criminality. How then will they keep their prisons filled to the contractually mandated levels?
    Last on this somewhat abbreviated list of "victims" of the unstoppable green tidal wave of legalization, the so called "drug warriors".
    "If cannabis were to dissappear from the face of the earth tomorrow, it would be a DISASTER for the DEA" :Ed Rosenthal
    That about says it all.

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  10. the demons in gove wouldnt let me ike this the 1st 5 times what gives???

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  11. Stoners worldwide can issue a huge "I told you so" to the hypocritical governments that demonize weed while pushing side effects encumbered unhealthy pharmaceutical garbage.

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  12. Unfortunately the idiots who worked to legalize reefer based their reasoning on the taxes it would raise. So now we have gov't control of a plant anyone could otherwise grow, determining forever how when where and how strong (3:2 beer anyone?) we can use it. All that and a DOUBLING of it's retail cost due to TAXES which (guess what) will only increase.
    Brilliant! Whoever figured out this "legalization" must have been stoned.
    Why the hell did we give control of our plants to the gov't when we needed to TAKE control? The stuff is so easy to grow it's cost should be negligable, like tomatos & peppers. But the people who pushed legalization are "progressive liberals" who think gov't should control everything.
    Should have just decriminalized it and the cartels could go suck wind.

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  13. Coulda woulda shoulda… Let's just enjoy the progress shall we. The current positive momentum is better than it still being illegal, but I hear ya.

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  14. All I can find is the indoor grown stuff . …..expensive . ……where is the commercial Mexican . …….alot cheaper .

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  15. Weed is not legal in the US , the Feds will still bust you take all your stuff, home,bank account and I mean everything thanks to the Zero Tolerance Bush senior Law.
    Its only allowed in certain state but not by the big brother Feds.
    And once it is legal then the other drugs will get pushed to become legal also.

    The Cartels have started selling heroin and its making tons of money, so you haven't hurt them at all they adapted and survive, so sell that lie somewhere else.
    I look forward to Brands OD and the silence it will create once his commie mouth no longer makes those Tax dodging drug using sounds.

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  16. The fact of the matter is that Marijuana is safer, more effective and less expensive than prescription pain killers, which are only some of the many reasons it should not be classified as a "Schedule I" drug.

    http://ow.ly/ZeWXC

    If you agree, please sign our petition at the White House web site to ask that they reclassify Marijuana, or unschedule it altogether. Do that here: http://wh.gov/iGg78

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  17. Randy I appreciate your respect for the dead, but Mrs. Fuckless Nancy Ray-Gun SHOULD be disparaged, and sent to Hell, for the suffering she caused with her baseless fear-mongering and persecution of pot smokers.

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  18. Oh, Canada!! For 10 years now I have been buying fantastic, clean, and INEXPENSIVE bud here – from a ST0REFRONT, a regular shop on Main Street. $5/gram usually. Today I got $10 worth and its going to last me a week or two. Go, CANADA!! {This advertisment has been brought to you by the Province of B.C.}

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  19. I've never done any hard drugs and I can promise you it has nothing to do with the fact that it's illegal. Your wrong to think that offering easier access to rehab, and other help with addiction wouldn't be better then incarceration. Not locking people up for something isn't the same as encouraging it.

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  20. Marijuana /cannabis is completely harmless and should be allowed for everyone in every state . Should not have ever even been in the drug category to begin with. By stopping the drug war on marijuana / cannabis , it is a win win for both the U.S. and Mexico. This should have been done years and years ago. Marijuana/cannabis is as addictive as coffee. Both you would like to have, but could live without and many has proved to do by it being made illegal for years.

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  21. I am not against legalizing cannabis but lets have some honest or at the very least informed reporting. Drug cartels are not hurting, far from it. They are thriving. It is true that they have abandoned (but not completely) the trade in weed. They have focused their attention to opiates, primarily heroin. It is almost at epidemic proportions across the country. The price of heroin is at an all time low and the addiction rate is skyrocketing. Emergency rooms are treating more and more people for heroin overdoses almost on a daily basis. Overdose deaths are rocketing upward and people are celebrating cannabis legalization.
    Also make no mistake about it, weed is being legalized because of the revenue that it will bring into governments. Under our current political structure the spending addictions that governments have, will never ever be satisfied.Governments are already in the gambling business with the lottery, many states are in the alcohol business, it does not take a rocket scientist to know why weed is being legalized. Does anyone think these cartels are just going to roll over and lose billions in revenue. They just moved from one product to a much more profitable and dangerous product.

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  22. It is far better and safer to legalize it and spend the money on things like rehab, prevention , education etc .

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  23. Which is why it makes sense to legalize it all and spend the money that is generated on things like rehab, prevention, education etc .

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  24. Which is why it is much better and safer to make it all legal and spend the money that is generated and saved on things like rehab, prevention, education etc .

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  25. Its good to legalise weed then peoples will not go for hard drags..if they will get weed easyly and cheap…

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  26. Its good to legalise weed then peoples will not go for hard drags..if they will get weed easyly and cheap…

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  27. I have no idea why your suggesting "the Irish model". I live in Ireland, Ireland has some of the most aggresive and regressive drug policies in the World, for example, cannabis is a "class A" substance on a par with Heroin, Crack, etc.

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  28. The problem is that the cannabis industry has been going on for so long that it is a form of an under ground economy ,the industry generates massive amounts of money in ways that a lot of people are unaware of ,money laundering by national and international banks is massive.The HSBC is fined regularly by the treasury board,but that does not stop them nothing stops them as admitted by the treasury board in the Elisabeth Warren congressional inquiry ,the fines just become an overhead .Another thing to take into concideration "and also explains that it is an industry ,is the legal system, thousands are incarcerated in jails for drug offences,so that for sure is another aspect to look at .What will you do with the people that are employed because of the drug industry……think about it ,jailers boarder police ,people that work in the justice system Lawyers etc.what will you do with them ,where will they work when you take away their living"DRUGS"its not going to be that easy to dismantle an industry that has so many people dependent on it to make a living…

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  29. I don't agree with legalizing drugs altogether. Marijuana os not a drug, it is a medicinal plant. You had me until you mentioned wanting drugs legalized, like cocaine,and the like. Drugs kill, the medicinal herb doesn't. It heals.

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  30. Oh How could these people use natural Healing herbs created by God that are taking away the Big Profits from the Big Pharmeceutical companies. That is a terrible thing to do for American Companies who are just trying to make a killing off their Chemotherapy drugs that will kill you too.

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  31. Recreational legalisation isn't what countries like Portugal and ireland have done, they decriminalised recreational use. The difference is that decrim is still illegal, it is just not a criminal offence that you can be punished for. Look at the stats of reoffending in the US and it's obvious what's happening right now doesn't work, especially compared to countries like Portugal where heroin addiction has dropped by 50% in 15 years since the introduction of their policy.

    In my opinion even without law reform, the current system is worse than it should be. Why would prisons try and rehabilitate prisoners? That causes a future loss in profit, and prisons are a business like all others; they care about money and not much else.

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