The RAND Corporation released a study today claiming that Proposition 19, California ‘s initiative to control and tax marijuana, would not dramatically reduce drug revenues collected by Mexican drug trafficking from the sales to the United States. The study calculates that Mexico drug trafficking organizations generate between $1 billion and $2 billion annually from exporting marijuana to the United States.
Stephen Gutwillig, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance offered this statement:
“The prohibition on marijuana in this country has been such a profound failure largely because it fuels a massive, increasingly violent underground economy on both sides of our border with Mexico. Banning a substance outright that is already so widely consumed simply drives that use into the shadows and empowers the criminals that control this enormous, profitable market. Today ‘s RAND study validates much of that analysis but contends that the value of marijuana to the vast illicit market is less than what the U.S. government has repeatedly asserted for several years.
“The bottom line is that creating any lawful, legitimate market for sales of marijuana to adults isn ‘t good for the criminal syndicates that currently control this gigantic underground economy. Whether their share is $2 billion or some other number, Prop. 19 is bad for their bottom line and a direct challenge to the monopoly they currently enjoy over their most lucrative product.
“Creating an exit strategy from the disastrous war on marijuana has to start somewhere. Ending marijuana prohibition, bringing the multi-billion dollar marijuana market into the light of day and under the rule of law, will deal a major blow to criminal syndicates on both sides of the border. California can ‘t put these cartels out of business by itself, but Prop. 19 is a crucial first step.”