Marijuana legalization in California and its Impact on Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico
There is a strong mutual relationship between Mexico and United States. According to Kilmer (91), the two countries depend on one another to promote their economy growth under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexico depends on U.S. for exports and tourism, whereas U.S. depends on Mexico for oil supply. It is projected that more than 80% of Mexican exports are designated in the U.S. In addition, most of the tourists in Mexico come from U.S., generating a lot of income for Mexico government. Mexico is also the biggest supplier of crude oil in the U.S. Numerous policies have been passed with an effort to promote trade between these two countries under various bilateral agreements.
These policies have succeeded, and trade between Mexico and U.S. has flourished as noted in the last few decades. Nevertheless, the relationship between the two countries has been faced a serious challenge over recent years. Specifically, the main challenge is drug trafficking (Booth 69). The rate of drug trafficking from Mexico to U.S. has increased radically in the last ten years. Mexico has been rated as one of the chief producers and distributors of drugs worldwide. 80% of the drugs produced in the country are exported to U.S. illegally. The increasing rate of drug trafficking in the country has been a big challenge to Mexican government due to the soaring rate of insecurity and violence. The Mexican government has increasingly lost control of regulating the flow of drugs due to the large amount of profit generated by drug cartels
The U.S. demand for illegal drugs, especially marijuana, has been outlined as one of the root causes of increased violence in Mexico as well as a source of drug trafficking organization revenues (Booth 70). Booth (70) also noted that there is a rapid rise in the rate of violence in Mexico. From 2007 to 2010, the rate of death as a result of violence in Mexico increased by 50%. Most of the violence reported was as because of illegal trade in drugs. Most of the illegal drugs in Mexico are traded in U.S., which provides a big market because of large number of drug users.
According to Shirk (101), reducing demand of illegal drug in the U.S. will reduce the rate of violence in Mexico and reduce revenues collected by illegal drug organizations that facilitate the trade. However, some researchers have argued against the reduction of demand in the use of drug citing that most of the drug users are addicts and, therefore, their drug consumption cannot be terminated instantly. Therefore, reducing the demand for drug consumption in U.S. cannot yield rapid result since drug addicts will continue to buy drugs illegally from Mexican drug traffickers.
In light of this, the main driving question of my proposed research is: how would the legalization of marijuana in California affect drug trafficking revenues and violence in Mexico?
Review of Literature
In recent years, Mexico has reported an increase in the rate of violence, which is resulting to death of its citizens. Reports show that more than 50% of deaths reported in Mexico are due to violence. According to Caulkins and Lee (2012 108), the high rate of violence in the country is related to drug trafficking by illegal drug trafficking organizations that control the illegal trade. These drug trafficking organizations generate a lot of revenue from the illegal drug trade estimated to be between $18 to $36 billion annually. 60% of these revenues are generated from export of marijuana that is produced commercially in Mexico. United States provides a good market for Mexican drug traffickers, and most of the drugs produced in Mexico are exported to U.S. As a result, many researchers have cited U.S. drug market as one of the main causes of violence in Mexico as well as high revenues earned by drug trafficking cartels (Caulkins & Lee 108)
Production of Marijuana in Mexico
Mexico has been rated as one of the leading producers and distributors of marijuana in the world. Although there are difficulties in obtaining the correct figure of marijuana production, it is estimated that the country produce about 60% of marijuana worldwide. Despite marijuana being illegal in the country, commercial production is done by cartels working with drug trafficking organization. The produced marijuana is exported to various countries in the world. U.S. provides the biggest market for Mexican marijuana where about 70% of the marijuana produced in Mexico is exported to U.S. (Caulkins & Lee 108). The big market for marijuana in the U.S. has helped the Mexican cartels dealing to earn huge profits from the illegal trade. As a result, the number of cartels dealing with marijuana exports has increased dramatically over the years. This has resulted in large number of violence as each of them tries to outdo the other in the market, and most of this violence has resulted in death of Mexico citizens (Beittel 179). The graph taken from National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI)shows the increase in number of violence-related deaths resulting from illegal marijuana trade in Mexico.
Effort to Control Marijuana Trafficking Between Mexico and U.S.
Drug trafficking has been considered a global threat since 1981 and a lot of efforts have been put in place to control drug trafficking (Kleiman 242). The U.S. has not been left behind in the war against drug trafficking. For several years, the U.S. government has been trying to control Mexican drug traffickers from smuggling drugs such as marijuana in U.S.. In its efforts, the government has put in place several measures such as criminalizing the use and possession of marijuana as well as putting security checks in Mexico borders to prevent smugglers from entering the country (Kleiman 243). U.S. has also been deploying military patrols in the Mexican borders to fight drug trafficking. However, not any one of the measures has been effective in a significant way. Research has shown that the increased measures by the government to control marijuana trafficking in U.S. have resulted in increased violence in Mexico. The Mexican cartels have been fighting with U.S. military patrols on the border as they try to smuggle drugs. As a result, death rates in Mexican borders have escalated. Additionally there has been increased violence as drug trafficking cartels fight each other over the fierce competition.
Nevertheless, legalization of drugs has been suggested as a quick remedy to reduce violence and drug trafficking revenues in Mexico (Booth 79). Research has indicated that legalization of the drug will enable the government to have control of the drug trade, and, therefore, will control most of the revenues generated from the drug trade. Additionally, the rate of violence will reduce since the government will enact proper policies to control drug trade (Shirk 101). The U.S. government has agreed to collaborate with Mexico in its effort to reduce rising cases of violence as well as reducing drug trafficking revenues earned by drug cartels. In the effort, the U.S. government is enacting policies that aim at legalizing use of marijuana in California State that is the biggest consumer of the drug. Many debates have emerged from various stakeholders whether there the legalization will help in reducing the rate of violence in Mexico (Shirk 103).
The researcher understands that the study topic is sensitive to the participants. Therefore, it is important to show a high level of professionalism and follow research ethics when collecting the data. The researcher should ensure that personal data of the participants is not revealed and the information collected is used for the purpose of the research only (Kothari, 139). To guarantee ethics, the researcher will request permission to carry out the research from relevant authorities and participants. The participant will be assured that the information given will be used in the research, and their personal information will not be disclosed. Therefore, the data collection tool will not require the participant to disclose personal information such as name.
The study to investigate whether legalizing Marijuana in California could help reduce drug trafficking and violence will use both qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative research method will involve collection data from secondary sources such as previously conducted studies on Mexico drug trafficking , journal articles relating to drug trafficking in Mexico and legalization of marijuana in the U.S., and government agencies’ websites, (Kothari, 14). Qualitative research will help the researcher in this proposed study to gain an oversight of marijuana trade between Mexico and U.S. as well as its impact to Mexico security. Additionally, the method will help the researcher to form the basis of the study by identifying the research gap that exists between what is known and what is not known. Quantitative research will involve collection of primary data from primary data sources. The research will visit the field and collect data directly from the participant. Primary data will be collected through observation, interviews, questionnaires, and focus group discussions. The research method will help the researcher in collecting numerical data that can be used to test the hypothesis formulated in the study. The benefit of using both quantitative and qualitative research methods in the study is that the researcher will have prior knowledge of the topic before collecting primary data. Data will be analyzed using descriptive analysis design. This method help researcher helps the researcher to relate statistical data collected with the research question of the study.
The study will use descriptive research design. Descriptive research design enables the researcher to explain things as they are from multiple directions. The design will help the researcher to show the relationship between marijuana legalization in U.S. and its effect on drug trafficking revenues in Mexico as well as violence in the country. The researcher will use primary data collected for the purpose of these study to ascertain whether the available information on legalization of marijuana in the U.S. has an impact on Mexico rate of violence and drug trafficking revenues. Descriptive research design helps provide answers to the questions who, what, when, where, and how marijuana legalization in California influence California drug trafficking revenues and rate of violence. The design will also add to the available literature the new information on the study topic
The research targets drug trafficking cartels and security personnel in Mexico. It aims to show that drug cartels in Mexico will be collaborative and provide information relating to drug trafficking, especially on revenues they earn from the drug trade. Security personnel in the country will also help in collecting information on violence that has been reported in relation to drug trafficking. They will also help in giving out information on measures that have been put in place to reduce drug trafficking in the country. The research also targets to collect information from different members of the public to get their opinion on legalization of marijuana in U.S.
Sampling and Sampling procedures
To analyze the characteristic of the target population sampling will be done to help the researcher on selecting a group of participant to represent the whole population. The group of participants selected to represent the target population is known as the sample. The respondents will consist of drug trafficking cartels, security personnel and members of the public. A small sample size will be easy to manage, and it will reduce the cost of the study. Probability sampling will be applied in choosing the study sample. This method guarantees that every member of the population has an opportunity of being selected to take part in the study. Stratified sampling technique will be used in selecting the respondents. The sampling method helps in reducing biases during sample selection since every person stands the same chance of selection.
Nevertheless, since it will be hard to deal with specific participant in the study, the researcher will use statistics to collect information on the effect of legalization of marijuana in California to drug trafficking revenues earned by drug trafficking organization, as well as effect on the rate of violence.
In the study to investigate this issue, various terms and concept will be used by the researcher. Conceptualization will help the participants and the stakeholders of the study to understand these concepts from the researcher’s point of view. In this study, violence is conceptualized as use of physical power and action against another person or a group that result to likelihood of physical harm, injury or death. Legalization in this study will be conceptualized as making something that was previously unlawful legal. It will also be taken as removal of legal prohibition against something. The study will also conceptualize drug as any chemical substance that has psychological effects when taken in the body.
Various indicators will be used in measuring the key variables in the study. First, violence will be measured by the number of reported cases of physical harm to security officers as well using medical reports in healthcare facilities. Violence will be split into different categories such as assaults, threats, physical harm, and death.
Data Collection and Measurement
Collection of data involves going to the field with data collection tool to collect relevant information from the selected participants. To collect the data, the researcher will use questionnaires and focus group discussion as data collection tools. The questionnaire will consist of open-ended questions and close-ended questions. The questions will involve the participant choosing an answer from a group of multiple choices provided. On the other hand, open-ended questions require participants to give their opinion when answering the question. The researcher will give out the questionnaires to the target participants to fill and then he will collect them after some time.
Focus group discussions will require the researcher to organize groups of individuals to discuss how this substance is likely to influence violence in Mexico and revenues earned by drug trafficking organization. During the discussion, the researcher will pose questions to the group members, which will act as the guideline to the discussion topic. The researcher will take notes in relevant points contributed by the participants.
To guarantee validity and reliability of the data collection tools, pilot study will be done. This helps the researcher in correcting any error noticed in the data collection tool (Kothari 136). In this study, pilot study will be conducted in areas not targeted by the study.
Descriptive analysis design will be used to analyze the collected data. Statistical methods of data analysis will be applied. The researcher will use statistical software such as SPSS to help in data analysis. The statistical data collected will be explained using the qualitative information available to the researcher in order to understand their relationship to the study topic. The study results will be presented in the form of tables, graphs and charts to help in generating conclusion on whether legalizing Marijuana in California could help reduce drug trafficking revenues and violence.
Significance and of the Study and Conclusion
The study to investigate whether legalizing Marijuana in California could help reduce the menace is of importance to various stakeholders. First, it will help the government in setting up rules and regulation in relation to production, distribution and consumption of marijuana. The government agencies will be able to get the actual data on the number of people using marijuana and the amount of revenue that is generated through illegal marijuana trade in the U.S. The study will also be of significant to other researchers and scholars interested in carrying out further studies on the issue. The study will also be of significance to health care providers who are helping people with drug addiction. Moreover, the research will provide recommendations on how legalization of marijuana will reduce violence in Mexico as well as reducing revenues from illegal drug trafficking.
Beittel, June S. “Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations.” Drugs, Crime, and Justice: Contemporary Perspectives (2013): 280.
Booth, William. “Mexico says marijuana legalization in US could change anti-drug strategies.” Washington Post, accessed November 7 (2013).
Caulkins, Jonathan P., and Michael Lee. “Legalizing Drugs in the US: A Solution to Mexico’s Problems for which Mexico should not Wait.” Rethinking the “War on Drugs” Through the U.S.-Mexico Prism (2012): 108.
Kilmer, Beau, et al. Reducing drug trafficking revenues and violence in Mexico. RAND Corporation, 2010.
Kleiman, Mark AR. “Targeting Drug-Trafficking Violence in Mexico: An Orthogonal Approach.” Rethinking the “War on Drugs” Through the US-Mexico Prism (2012): 125.
Kothari, Chakravanti Rajagopalachari. Research methodology: methods and techniques. New Age International, 2011.
Mackey, Alison, and Susan M. Gass. Second language research: Methodology and design. Routledge, 2013.
Shirk, David A. The drug war in Mexico: confronting a shared threat. No. 60. Council on Foreign Relations, 2011.