There’s No Need for Trump’s Wall – If You Just Legalize Weed

A wall with "weed" graffiti

One Donald Trump campaign promise is now poised to spur a weeks-long government shutdown if Republicans and Democrats can’t — in a matter of days — agree on the final fiscal 2018 appropriations. Trump, however, is unwilling to budge on his 18-billion US-Mexico border wall.

And now a few noted scientists are reminding us of some data points, and a relatively simple hypothesis: creating a legal cannabis market drives down the revenue within a marijuana black market — and the crime it entails.

It was certainly true in Colorado, which is still seen as the sociological test lab for legal cannabis. There, suddenly, you could buy safely regulated (and healthily-taxed) cannabis up the street, and suddenly, it wasn’t so lucrative for cartels to traffic bricks of weed in gas tanks or risk blowing up single-family homes with highly flammable butane hash rigs.

But what about border states?

One of Trump’s main arguments for building The Wall has always been to keep out Mexican, South American and even “Middle East” criminals “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he famously said in 2015.

But in a study published in Massachusetts-based “The Economic Journal” just late last year, two economists and a sociologist found that “the introduction of medical marijuana laws leads to a decrease in violent crime in states that border Mexico.”

Now there’s renewed interest in the analysis by researchers Evelina Gavrilova, Takuma Kamada and Floris Zoutman: “Is Legal Pot Crippleing Mexican Drug Trafficking Organisations: The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on U.S. Crime.”

The data is straightforward: “the reduction in crime is strongest for counties close to the border … and for crimes that relate to drug trafficking. In addition, we find that medical marijuana laws in inland states lead to a reduction in crime in the nearest border state.” So not only does legal weed reduce the exact type of crime Trump seeks to thwart with his wall, the good effects spread to areas where there isn’t legal weed — a little ‘kush karma’ if you will.

Trump’s pick for attorney general would disagree, but perhaps the most disturbing part of the pro-wall, anti-legalization argument comes in Trump’s own supporters saying pretty starkly: ‘it won’t work.’

“They erect this fence only to go out there a few days later and discover that these guys have a catapult, and they’re flinging hundred-pound bales of marijuana over to the other side,” Michael Braun, a pro-Trump, former DEA official told “The New York Times Magazine” in 2012.

Data provided by Customs and Border Protection agrees with the findings published in last year’s study.

Every year, an estimated $6 billion in illicit drug profit finds its way back across the Mexico border and ends up in the hands of large drug trafficking organizations.

These profits are “known to be paired with extreme levels of violence,” the researchers concluded.

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