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Study Says Prop. 19 Unlikely To Affect Drug Groups’ Revenues

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A new study by the Rand Corporation says Proposition 19, that would legalize marijuana in California, would pinch Mexican drug smugglers' pocketbooks. But Proposition 19 would not pack the wallop backers advertise.

A new study by the Rand Corporation says Proposition 19, that would legalize marijuana in California, would pinch Mexican drug smugglers' pocketbooks. But Proposition 19 would not pack the wallop backers advertise.

Special Feature KPBS ELECTION COVERAGE

During the last few years, it's been stated widely that 60 percent of drug groups' revenues come from marijuana. Proponents of Proposition 19 say therefore, legalizing marijuana in California will curtail traffickers' profits.

But Beau Kilmer, who helped write the Rand study, says the 60 percent figure is wrong. Kilmer says nationwide, it's more like 15 to 26 percent. And he says California is just a fraction of that.

"California accounts for about one-seventh of U.S. marijuana consumption. Hence, if Proposition 19 effects only revenues from supplying marijuana to California, revenue losses would be very small, only 2- to 4 percent," says Kilmer.

The study says legalizing marijuana in California could cut into Mexican drug groups' profits if the pot grown legally in California was smuggled around the U.S. and sold cheaper than Mexican pot. But the report says that's unlikely.

Kyle Kazan is a member of a group of law enforcement officers who back Proposition 19. He used to be a police officer in Torrance, California.

He says Proposition 19 will not immediately put Mexican drug groups out of business. "They have other drugs that they can sell. But it is a great start in the right direction and at least it takes away some of their profit," says Kazan.

The Rand study says it's unclear if a drop in drug groups' profits leads to a drop in violence. The study theorizes it could increase in the short term.

Historically, drug groups expand into new illegal activities when one becomes unprofitable.

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