Among the topics discussed by heads of state at the Seventh Summit of the Americas, was the impact of marijuana legalization would have on the region. What effects will a shift among cartels towards the production and export of heroin, for example, have on Central America? What pressures would Guatemala exert upon its neighbors should it decide to legalize marijuana?
Recreational marijuana is already legal in four states. All eyes are on 2016, when voters could see marijuana ballot initiatives in five more, including two along the U.S./Mexico border, the frontier of the U.S. war on drugs.
As much as 67 percent of the pot consumed in the U.S. comes from Mexico, putting about 1.5 billion dollars in the hands of drug traffickers. Some experts say that as states legalize marijuana and require it be grown in-state, the cartels could find themselves fighting for the shrinking illegal marijuana market or just move on to other illicit business dealings.
Beau Kilmer, co-director of the Rand Drug Policy Research Center, said, “They’re not just involved in smuggling drugs into the us, there’s also kidnappings, human smuggling, extortion.”