Study: Legalizing Pot In Calif. Won’t Hurt Cartels

NPR, 10/30/2010

On Tuesday, California voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana in the state. Supporters of Proposition 19 say legalization will undercut the profits made by Mexican drug cartels and eliminate the need for violent crimes. But a recent study by the RAND Corp. finds the overall hit to the cartels could be minimal.

Beau Kilmer, the lead author of the study and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, tells NPR’s Guy Raz that if California legalizes marijuana, the price of marijuana could drop by at least 80 percent.

“You are getting rid of the risks,” he says. When you buy drugs, “part of what you are doing is compensating the drug dealer for the risk of arrest. That goes away with full legalization.”

But, Kilmer says, marijuana sales probably only account for 15 to 26 percent of the cartels’ total drug export revenue and the cartels will lose only the California market. He estimates drug export revenues will be reduced only by 2 to 4 percent.

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