[image credit: npr.org]
U.S. demand for marijuana sends a stream of cash to Mexican drug cartels
In the Mexican state of Sinaloa, most rural farmers grow a small plot of marijuana to supplement their income. Local drug cartels buy up the harvest and dry it into bales, where it can be transported across the border into the United States. This is a significant source of cash for the cartels.
Solution: Legalization allows domestic growers to compete with organized criminals
More than half the states have now voted to permit pot for recreational or medical use, most recently Oregon and Alaska. That number also includes the District of Columbia. As a result, Americans appear to be buying more domestic marijuana, which in turn is undercutting growers and cartels in Mexico.
"Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90," says Nabor, a 24-year-old pot grower in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa. "But now they're paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It's a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they'll run us into the ground."