According to a new report from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), the number of marijuana trafficking cases dropped more than 33% between 2012 and 2015, to less than 3,000 total cases. The same period in which Colorado and Washington began recreational cannabis sales.
The USSC only monitors federal trafficking offenses, so any smuggling between states is not included the numbers. In a sign international traffickers might be changing their approach, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling cases drastically rose over the same period.
According to Beau Kilmer, a drug policy researcher at the RAND Corporation there are three possible reasons for the fall in marijuana smuggling offenses:
“1) efforts made by law enforcement, 2) efforts made by the smugglers to conceal the contraband, and 3) the amount of contraband being shipped. Thus, there could be multiple explanations for the decrease at the federal level,” said Kilmer.
“The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease,” the USSC report states.
While the USSC does not give explicit credit to legalization for this sharp decline, it’s incredibly hard to deny.