In Arizona, marijuana advocates expect legalization to decrease smuggling and damage drug cartels, according to an Oct. 12, 2016, article at CBSNews.com.
Arizonans will vote in November 2016 on Proposition 205, which could legalize recreational marijuana.
Supporters of Proposition 205 think legalization will expose drug cartels to the forces of legitimate business competition.
On the other side, opponents, including some law enforcement officials, say legalization will allow drug cartels to slip their marijuana concerns into legitimate businesses and cause them to push more efforts into selling hard drugs.
Carlos Alfaro, deputy campaign manager for Proposition 205, points to Border Patrol statistics for evidence that legalization in some states is already hurting drug cartels.
Those statistics show Border Patrol seizures of marijuana nationwide dropped 39 percent between fiscal years 2011 and 2015. In the Tucson, Arizona, sector, once known as a busy smuggling area, the drop was 28 percent.
“Now cartels have competition,” Alfaro said. “They have to compete with legitimate business in the U.S. with product that is more pure, with regulations on the shelf and prices.”
However, some law enforcement officers see marijuana legalization as a complicating factor in the war on harder drugs. Paul Beeson, Chief of the Tucson Sector for the Border Patrol, said now cartels “are seeking to increase market share in other controlled substances, notably heroin and methamphetamine.”