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Organized Crime: A Growing Concern in Canada

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Is the threat of organized crime infringing on legal marijuana? 

On paper, the theory seems straightforward — once people are allowed to purchase cannabis like a standard commodity, nobody will want to buy it from the black market, which will cause that part of the industry to shrivel and die. However, a recent report published by the CBC and obtained by The Canadian Press says the government is concerned about various organized crime factions infiltrating the regulated industry.

The paper was provided under the Freedom of Information Act and says, “As the experiences of other jurisdictions and of the regulation of alcohol and tobacco in Canada have shown, regulating a substance does not automatically remove it from illicit markets as evidenced by importation and sales of contraband tobacco.” The document adds that, because the black market currently runs the recreational marijuana industry, they could continue to produce pot themselves and then try to “infiltrate a regulated industry.”

In an interview with Marijuana.com, Ian McLeod Senior Advisor, Media Relations for the Department of Justice said, “The cultivation, distribution and exportation of marijuana is a significant source of revenue for Canadian organized criminal groups, and provides a financial base for other organized crime activities as well as individual criminals. The government takes the involvement of organized crime in the illegal manufacturing and distribution of marijuana very seriously.”

One of the ways Ian says the Government will continue to fight crime is to crack down on illegal grow ops, which is a whack-a-mole game the feds have been playing since the late seventies/early eighties when indoor hydroponics first started catching on. “Fighting organized crime is one of the government’s strategic priorities. Through continued efforts targeting marijuana grow operations, the RCMP is taking steps towards fulfilling this objective.”

The one thing that can’t be said about Trudeau by his critics, is he certainly isn’t giving the country mixed messages. He has been clear that stamping out organized crime is a priority for his team, which is why he is entirely opposed to simple decriminalization. Trudeau wants to create an exclusive clubhouse for legal pot and anyone operating outside that clubhouse will be invited to a five to ten-year timeout.

“The Government of Canada will design a system of strict regulation, with strong sanctions for those who sell outside this system. This will help ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and that we keep the profits out of the hands of criminals.”

McLeod concluded that the “next step in the process is to launch a task force that will provide the Government with expert advice on how the legalization process for marijuana should take place.” That of course means deciding who will continue producing it and who will sell it. Either way, your local “friendly stranger” is about to lose his livelihood to a major corporation. Looks like marijuana is just like every other North American industry.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett

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