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Border Security, Trump, and Medical Marijuana in the Southwestern US

January 17, 2018


On Jan. 17, President Donald Trump tweeted about a “massive inflow of drugs pouring into our country” and reiterated his call for a wall to enhance security at the nation’s Southern border.



So, Marijuana.com decided to take a look at the drug situation at the border based on information compiled by two federal agencies tasked with monitoring it: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).


CBP seized more than 2.14 million pounds of drugs at points of entry into the U.S. during FY 2017, according to the “CBP Border Security Report FY 2017” released by the agency Dec. 5.


The agency also noted an uptick in the amount of drugs smuggled into the U.S. through the mail — a method that can’t be mitigated through physical security at the borders.


“While most illicit drug smuggling attempts occur along the Southwest border, CBP has seen a growing threat of illicit synthetic drugs smuggled to the U.S. through the international mail and express consignment carrier (ECC) environment,” the report reads. “Several types of illicit synthetic drugs, also called ‘designer drugs,’ are being sold and shipped to endusers in the U.S., including synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, synthetic cannabinoids, and synthetic cathinones, commonly known as ‘bath salts.’”


In the DEA’s 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment, the agency concluded that state-level medical marijuana initiatives have had an “observable” impact in a number of areas, including “declines in the overall weight of Mexico-sourced marijuana seized at the SWB.” SWB is the DEA’s designation for the Southwest border, which President Trump called “very dangerous” on Tuesday.


Actually, it’s not more violent at the border


Trump’s statement contradicts the results of a study published Nov. 2017 in the Economic Journal, which shows “the introduction of medical marijuana laws” is a contributor to a drop in violent crime along the country’s Southwest border.


This study, titled “Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organisations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime,” also found a reduction in violent crime in states that border those with medical marijuana programs.


His tweet also contradicts the DEA’s own 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment, in which it states, verbatim, “While drug-related murders have reached epidemic proportions in Mexico in recent years, this phenomenon has not translated into spillover violence in the United States.”


Organizations that smuggle drugs into the U.S. have complex networks of producers, distributors, traffickers and US-based gangs that historically have found sophisticated ways to circumvent border security, from digging tunnels to using airplanes to transporting by sea. They’ve even used a “weed cannon.”


The matter of supply and demand


As professor Evelina Gavriola, an author of the study published in the Economic Journal, conveyed to the Independent in a story published Jan. 16, increasing access to medical marijuana reduces the potential customer base for illegal cannabis, subsequently reducing the demand.


“This means that people don’t need to buy illegal marijuana anymore so drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have far fewer customers,” she said.


This article was originally published on Marijuana.com


About Lesley Nickus: Since receiving her Journalism degree from California State University, Long Beach, in 2005, Lesley has traveled throughout the West Coast, South and Midwest to develop her multimedia content production skills at companies including the Long Beach Press Telegram, Suburban Life Media, the American Cancer Society, Illinois News Network and the Los Angeles Times.

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