Legalizing marijuana should be a top national security objective – that is, if the United States wants to minimize terrorism and border instability.  How do legalizing marijuana and maintaining national security relate to each other? Well, here’s the breakdown!

The United States has been waging wars with Iraq and Afghanistan for the past two decades and has tried relentlessly to stabilize both Iraq and Afghanistan by attempting to build some type of political and economic structure within each of those nations.  Additionally, as the 2011 U.S. National Strategy for Counterterrorism states, the President’s top national security priority is ensuring the security of the citizens of the United States and the interests of the United States from terrorists.

With that in mind, Afghanistan is the largest provider of cannabis in the world and the United States is the world’s largest consumer of cannabis.  Citizens of the United States spend about $40.6 billion a year on cannabis.  Therefore, if the United States legalizes cannabis, Afghanistan and its people and economy could establish a source of income by supplying the United States’ legal cannabis industry.  This would create some sort of economic stability in Afghanistan and even destabilize terror groups.

This is because terrorist groups are the main beneficiaries of the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan.  According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the terrorist groups use profits from drug trafficking to fund acts of terrorism, violence and other conflicts.  The illegal drug trade in Afghanistan is supporting the ongoing influx of terror activities.  Therefore, so long as marijuana is still illegal in the United States, the terrorist groups will benefit from illegal drug trafficking.  However, if the United States would legalize marijuana, the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan would disappear and terrorist groups would lack funds to carry out their terror activities.

The link between legalization of marijuana and terrorism is also evident in the relationship between the United States and Mexico.

 The 2011 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy states that one of the top homeland security priorities of the United States is reducing the amount of illicit trafficking across the Southwest border.  Because half of all drug seizures at the border are marijuana seizures, legalizing marijuana would decrease the prison population and mitigate violence created by Mexican drug gangs.  Therefore, accomplishing a main security priority of the United States.

 Although legalizing marijuana would promote national security and even help the United States accomplish top national security goals, the United States unfortunately has yet to address this correlation.