How much have recent strides in U.S. marijuana legalization affected Mexican drug cartels and the ultimate trafficking of drugs over the border?

Well, the pro-pot camp will tell you “swimmingly.” Numbers show the Border Patrol’s amount of marijuana confiscations has declined by one-fourth since the Colorado and Washington votes. Police seizures are down because the cost of carting illegally grown crops from out of state majorly outweighs crops from legal states.  And this goes for both Mexico and bordering “homegrown” states.

But further digging shows the flipsides to the change. More and more it seems cartels have ramped up distribution of designer substances like meth and heroin, drugs which already served a majority of their output, and serious problems for authorities. Add to that the recent disappearance and execution of 43 college students in the state of Guerrero, (discovered to be a case of mistaken identity by the local cartel), and we begin to see the full spectrum of perspective this whole situation entails.

Ultimately, the scenario is of no surprise to drug treatment and policy experts.  As long as drugs are treated as a criminal problem rather than public health issue, the power will always be in the hands of those gaining the most profit.  Those industrial “dealers,” those friends at big pharma, supplying the plebeians their gruel. Those hallowed souls of the one percent, perusing the prison-industrial complex like it was a magazine. Those who, by all accounts and purposes, helped the cartels get where they’re at, and really enjoy the view.