Article by Mike Hagar, The Globe and Mail
Canada’s organized crime groups and gangs are much less likely to produce and traffic marijuana than they are other illicit drugs such as cocaine and crystal methamphetamine, according to a new federal study that tracked drug violations from police forces in four cities across three provinces.
The new report from Statistics Canada analyzed all drug-related violations over a two-year period in Victoria, Vancouver, Regina and Waterloo, Ont., and found that police linked organized crime to 39 per cent of all cannabis-trafficking charges and 6 per cent of cases involving the production of marijuana.
In comparison, these groups were linked to three-quarters of all heroin-trafficking charges, 62 per cent of all cocaine-trafficking violations and 60 per cent of those linked to the dealing of crystal methamphetamine.
Over all, slightly more than half of the 1,051 drug-related charges tracked over 2013 and 2014 involved organized crime or gangs, according to the study.
The Liberal federal government is set to introduce legislation this spring legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, which it says is necessary to stop young Canadians from getting easy access to the drug and to block billions in profits from flowing to violent criminal gangs.
The authors of the report, which draws on a pilot project aimed at improving police collection of this data, cautioned that their research is too limited to draw any conclusions about the roles gangs play in growing and dealing marijuana across the country.