Article by Caleb McMillan
Perhaps back in the 1970s, when cannabis wasn’t as “strong” as it is today (which means you had to smoke more of it to get the same effect, making modern cannabis a safer choice), cannabis was profitable for organized crime, like motorcycle gangs and outlaws.
But, in the mid-2000s, when the government started licensing people to grow medical cannabis, violent organized crime started moving out of the cannabis business.
According to an SFU study, the percentage of Canada’s cannabis industry that’s actually criminal is as low as 5%.
That means 95% of Canada’s illicit cannabis industry is peaceful and concerned only with producing safe, quality cannabis. They aren’t simultaneously running meth labs, snorting cocaine, and paying off crooked cops and politicians.
The Toronto Star calls them “disorganized criminals” and that’s a good way of putting it since the free market is a decentralized network of entrepreneurs competing for consumers.
There is no central planning committee and the regulations (far from being written by Health Canada and then hardly enforced) are spontaneous and organic. That is, the regulations imposed on BC Bud aren’t political and have been discovered by producers and consumers through time.
Now all the government needs to do is recognize this legitimate industry and encourage these “illicit” producers to codify their practices into an aboveboard regime.
But of course, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, despite being in power since 2015, have yet to distinguish between the violent element making up 5% of the industry and the peaceful connoisseur industry that continues to get raided and fined for producing something that’s legal for some but not for others.
Is it criminal for Canada’s 30,000+ licensed medical growers to sell or share their excess supply with others who cannot grow? What’s dangerous about supplying dispensaries with homegrown BC Bud?
As the Star reports, “The efforts of organized crime to control the pot trade have been undermined for the past three decades by “disorganized crime,” according to Alan Young, an associate professor at the Osgoode Hall law school. Many of these are green-thumbed potheads growing marijuana for friends.”
Or as criminologist Neil Boyd says: “They’re really just business people.”
Cannabis connoisseurs don’t rely on violent means, they don’t drive out their competition with guns, they don’t pay off the police or corrupt politicians. In fact, those characteristics are reminiscent of a few large LPs who have masked their violence through the use of government force.