Bricks and mortar? Or bricks of drugs?

The federal government is currently shut down because of a nasty brawl because President Trump wants a fence between us and Mexico.

But you know what's helped already, fence or no? Legal weed.

Two-thirds of marijuana smoked by Americans used to come from Mexico, and the weight Border Patrol seized stayed steady for a decade. But since thirty-some U.S. states freed the weed, pot lovers can buy cleaner, happier, stonier weed locally.

That's made a difference. Compared to prohibitionist days, about 80 percent less marijuana is being smuggled through the border, estimates a new report from the Cato Institute, "How Legalizing Marijuana is Securing the Border."

Less smuggling means less bribery, tunnel digging, submarine piloting and dudes shoving packets of weed up their butts.

"State marijuana legalization starting in 2014 did more to reduce marijuana smuggling than the doubling of Border Patrol agents or the construction of hundreds of miles of border fencing did from 2003 to 2009," the report said.

[Graphic from the Cato Institute.]

The Mexican cartels are making 30 to 50 percent less money on pot. Weed prices south of the border have dropped 50 to 70 percent since legalization, NPR reported.

"If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they'll run us into the ground," a Mexican weed grower told NPR in 2014.

That grower said he contemplated a new crop … opium poppies. Cartels focus on opioids, too, we reported two years ago.  

Therefore, to keep pace, the next step is easy: legalize more drugs.

Meth is the second most popular drug to border cross with, the Border Patrol says. After meth comes cocaine. Then heroin.

So, legalize them.

If legalizing hard drugs seems loco en la cabeza, recall two facts:

1. Half of America warned legalizing weed would be a disaster, frying brains, frazzling families and basically wrecking shop worse than an alcohol stepfather. But it didn't happen.

2. Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001, including meth-cocaine-fentanyl-krokodil and that stuff that makes you dine on your friends' faces. And Portuguese drug use, drug overdoses and drug abuse are all way down.

Weirdly, legalizing drugs dissuades folks from using them.

If the U.S. stops its crackdown on meth and coke and heroin, Mexicans will drop out of those markets, too. And smuggling will drop. And a border wall could be built with the sole goal of stopping human migration. Because all the drugs Americans desire will already be here.

photo - marijuana seedling

[A marijuana seedling. Cover photo: border wall between Arizona and Mexico. Photos from Shutterstock.]