Has Organized Crime Infiltrated The Medical Cannabis Industry?
One profound effect that legalization of cannabis, whether medical or otherwise, has had on society is a drastic reduction in the black market’s ability to flourish. Logic would dictate that once you make something legal, those who used to profit off of it on the street would now be out of business. This is exactly what is happening. Legalization in the US has devastated Mexican cartels who used to traffick in black market pot to fund other operations. Seeing their profits cut dramatically, some of these criminal enterprises have tried to set up shop in the legal medical marijuana market, but how successful have they been?
According to a CBC news report, criminal organizations like the notorious biker gang the Hell’s Angels have successfully acquired personal grow licenses from which they produce large amounts of marijuana for sale on the black market. According to the police, the legal status of the license is hampering their ability to cut off the flow of marijuana to the streets illegally. As per a 2013 report from the RCMP, “there is no shortage of organized criminal groups who have applied to produce medical marijuana under Health Canada’s new MMPR, including self-proclaimed Hell’s Angels and associates of transnational organized crime.”
But is this the truth? Sifting through the numerous allegations, one cannot help but find that they seem to be designed to paint legal marijuana as a sham industry inundated with criminals. It would appear that the police and organizations who have a vested stake in keeping marijuana illegal will stop at nothing to kill the green rush before it begins. Earlier this year, headlines sprung up all over North America with claims coming from the RCMP that Cannabis Culture stores out of Toronto had links to organized crime. A thorough read of the information presented makes no mention of organized crime, other than to accuse the owners of being their own marijuana mafia. Despite the truth of the matter, Cannabis Culture has most likely suffered irrevocable damage from the unsubstantiated allegations.
An August 2016 report prepared by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition tells quite a different tale of organized crime’s role in legal cannabis. They laid out six key findings based on the evidence and gave their own recommendations on how to tackle the subject. The nine page report dives deep into the truth or myth behind organized crime’s infiltration of the industry, but it can best be summed up in one line; “While the label of organized criminal may be accurately applied to a minority of the individuals involved in the illicit cannabis industry, the defining characteristics of the term are not applicable to the majority.” The report goes on to say, “Those involved in cannabis production are typically small-scale growers who are active members of their community.”
So it would seem that many of the reports put out by the media have been unsubstantiated and pose a direct threat of misleading members of the government whose opinion may be swayed. The medical cannabis industry is comprised of entrepreneurs, doctors, scientists and researchers, all working together in hopes of making safe effective medicine available to patients who need it. As with any industry, there will always be a small minority who operate outside of the law, but with legal cannabis in Canada, those numbers are few and far between.
Davie is a long time cannabis professional who has worked not only as a cultivator but in all aspects of retail cannabis. From budtender, to wholesale and retail management, and from harvester to advanced hydroponic specialist, Davie has been around the block more than once. Now residing in beautiful British Columbia, Davie now works with acres of greenhouses, producing some of the best buds in the country.