A few excerpts from a TIME article: A New Way to Fight Mexico’s Vicious Cartels: Legalizing Marijuana

Campaigners have cited the Mexican conflict as a reason to change U.S. drug laws. American ganja smokers are giving billions of dollars to psychotic Mexican drug cartels, they argue, and legalization is the only way to stop the war. It is a compelling argument. But is it true?…

Mexican traffickers have also morphed into criminal cartels with a broad portfolio of businesses. In addition to smuggling marijuana, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth, they make money from kidnapping, human-smuggling, running guns, stealing crude oil, product piracy, business extortion and any other devious rackets they can come up with. Legalizing marijuana would destroy only one division of their empire.

However, policy reformists point out that whatever the exact numbers, everyone agrees that Mexican gangsters are making billions of dollars selling marijuana to American smokers. “There is no doubt that marijuana legalization would hurt Mexican gangsters in their pocketbooks,” says Tom Angell, spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a U.S. group that opposes the war on drugs….
Legalization could take away more gangster profits than the DEA and Mexican army have managed to do in decades. It might not kill the Mexican cartels, but it would certainly hurt them.

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