Analysis: Marijuana Smuggling Drops With Legalization In U.S.

Published: Friday, December 28, 2018 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, December 31, 2018 - 11:02am
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Murphy Woodhouse/KJZZ
Motorists wait to cross at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Sonora, in February 2019. Since the U.S. implemented restrictions at the border on March, 20, 2020, fewer people have been crossing.

A new analysis suggests that as states legalize marijuana, less of the drug is being smuggled across the border from Mexico.

On average, Border Patrol agents are confiscating 78 percent less marijuana in 2018 than they were in 2013, according to a new study by the CATO Institute.

“Marijuana smuggling has been decimated by state-level legalizations across the United States,” said David Bier, an immigration policy analyst with the Washington, D.C.-based think-tank.

He said decades of ramping up border enforcement did little to curb marijuana smuggling. But as more U.S. demand for the drug is being met by legal producers, less cannabis is flowing across the border illegally.

In Arizona, a significant decline in marijuana seized at the border can be attributed to legalization in Colorado, he said.

The success of marijuana legalization also provides a model for immigration policy that opens more doors for legal migration, Bier added.

“My view based on the success of the legalization of marijuana is that, if you legalize something such as marijuana or the legalization of people, people are going to opt for the legal route," he said.

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