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No on 64: Don’t Invite Cartels

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Voters of Colorado should vote NO on amendment 64, a proposal to legalize marijuana in Colorado.

Voters should not treat this as only a question on the merits of marijuana legalization but rather on whether Colorado would be wise to make marijuana legal in the state even as it remains illegal in the rest of the country.


If our state becomes the only state in the nation to legalize marijuana, criminal organizations are more likely to set up shop in Colorado. Just as reducing taxes attracts legitimate businesses to the state, reducing criminal sanctions on marijuana while other states keep those sanctions in place will attract cartels that deal in marijuana to Colorado.

The cartels would come to Colorado not necessarily to sell marijuana within the state, but to use our state as a central point of production and distribution to export to other states without the inconvenience of international border controls that currently exist. This probability is increased by the fact that Colorado is centrally located within the mid-west and is a short 8-hour drive from Cd. Juarez--the most violent city in Mexico.

Once cartels set up major operations here, they could replicate their business model in our communities--branching out into other illegal enterprises such as kidnapping for ransom, human trafficking, extortion/protection payments from businesses, and corruption of government and law enforcement officials. In many Mexican cities, law-abiding residents no longer venture out of their homes at night for fear of their safety.

Having lived for a decade in Mexico and returning to the United States just as things began to get ugly a number of years ago, I can attest to how quickly things can fall apart when cartels proliferate. In the space of just a few months, the Mexican city in which I lived went from being as peaceful as Denver to having daily killings and massacres as cartels fought over turf. And being the only state to legalize marijuana, Colorado would be very attractive "turf."


As long as marijuana is illegal in the rest of the country, legalizing it in Colorado can only serve to make Colorado more attractive to international criminal organizations. Legalizing marijuana in Colorado won't reduce crime, but rather almost guarantees that drug cartels would come--along with increased violence and crime.

Citizens of Colorado must vote NO on amendment 64 and reject a proposal that would attract violent cartels and crime to our state.

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