Bond et al 2010 (Brittany M., economist at the U.S. Department of Commerce; Jonathan Caulkins, H. Guyford Stever Professorship of Operations Research and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon; Beau Kilmer and Peter Reuter, Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/occasional_papers/2010/RAND_OP325.pdf)
Not surprisingly, violence in Mexico plays a prominent role in debates about marijuana legalization in the United States. Often, big numbers of dubious origin are tossed around in drug policy discussions with little thought and, frankly, little consequence. Some U.S. government reports suggest that Mexican and Colombian DTOs combined earn $18 billion–$39 billion annually in wholesale drug proceeds (NDIC, 2008d), and one analysis even estimated that 60 percent of all Mexican DTO drug revenue comes from exporting marijuana (ONDCP, 2006). Legalization advocates seize on such figures to supplement their traditional arguments, and the figures have been repeated in the popular press, with even respectable news sources claiming that “the Mexican cartels could be selling $20 billion worth of marijuana in the U.S. market each year” (Fainaru and Booth, 2009). The $20 billion figure appears to come from multiplying a $525-per-pound2 markup by an estimate from the Mexican government that 35 million pounds were produced in Mexico and then rounding up. However, no data support the claimthat U.S. users consume 35 million pounds (~16,000 metric tons [MT]) per year, let alone that they consume this much marijuana from Mexico. (This point is addressed in detail in Chapter Three.) This is three timesthe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) (2009) upper bound for total U.S. consumption and nearly four times the amount estimated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (DASC, 2002).