U.S. demand for illicit drugs creates markets for Mexican drug trafficking organisations (DTOs). This paper examines how marijuana legalisation in California might influence DTO revenues and the violence in Mexico, focusing on gross revenues from export and distribution to wholesale markets near the southwestern U.S. border.

The analysis described here is rooted in an earlier RAND Corporation study on marijuana legalisation (Kilmer, Caulkins, Pacula, et al., 2010) and presents a method of estimating the revenues that international drug traffickers derive from U.S. sales that is transparent and, hence, auditable and replicable. We believe that this method can be interatively improved by research over time, whereas existing methods that rely heavily on classified information have not been subject to review and have not shown much ongoing improvement. Five technical appendixes include additional information about the weight of a marijuana joint, THC content of sinsemilla and commercial-grade marijuana, marijuana prices, Mexican DTO revenues from drugs other than marijuana, and the availability of Mexican marijuana in the U.S. They are available online.

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