Notable & Quotable, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2016
Okay, I’m going to say it. The heroin epidemic was caused by the legalization of marijuana.
We wanted legal weed, and for the most part, we got it. Four states have legalized it outright, others have decriminalized it, and in many jurisdictions police refuse to enforce the laws that are on the books, creating a de facto street legalization. The American marijuana was superior and the cost of doing business significantly less.
Colorado’s recreational marijuana law threatened to annihilate the Sinaloa Cartel’s weed operation. In a single year, the cartel suffered a 40 percent drop in marijuana sales, representing billions of dollars.
Looking at the American drug market as it existed, Guzmán and his partners saw an opportunity. An increasing number of Americans were addicted to prescription opioids such as Oxycontin. And their addiction was expensive. One capsule of Oxy might sell on the street for thirty dollars, and an addict might need ten hits a day.
The Sinaloa Cartel decided to undercut the pharmaceutical companies. They increased the production of Mexican heroin by almost 70 percent, and also raised the purity level, bringing in Colombian cooks to create ‘cinnamon’ heroin as strong as the East Asian product. They had been selling a product that was about 46 percent pure, now they improved it to 90 percent.