Tuesday, May 27, 2014
When marijuana was illegal across the entire United States, the pot business in Mexico was fantastically profitable.
It brought a ton of American dollars into the country for nearly five decades.
Now that growing cannabis is legal in parts of the United States, however – and consumers can now simply visit a local dispensary to purchase home-grown marijuana – the impact on Mexico has been devastating.
Before, a farmer working for the cartels in Mexico used to be able to command $100 a kilo for quality marijuana. Today, the price has crashed to $25 a kilo.
It’s simple supply and demand at work.
But legalization isn’t just affecting farmers. It’s taking a massive bite out of crime – both in Mexico, and in the United States.
Fact: The United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country in the world. In all, nearly a third of a million people are imprisoned for drug-related crimes in America. More specifically, 12.4% of federal drug offenders and 12.7% of state drug offenders are imprisoned for nothing more than marijuana-related charges.
These are mind-boggling numbers.
In 2010, the Justice Policy Institute concluded that “treatment delivered in the community is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent [drug-related] crimes and costs approximately $20,000 less than incarceration per person per year.”
A study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy concluded that every dollar spent on community-centric drug treatment yields over $18 in cost savings related to crime. Prison, meanwhile, yields just $0.37 in public safety benefits for every dollar spent, according to the Justice Policy Institute.
Ultimately, prisons are overburdened, and the cost of imprisoning non-violent drug offenders has skyrocketed. As the War on Drugs draws down and marijuana legalization spreads across the country, America is obligated to address its broken prison system, as well.