Government Report Says Legalization Won’t Make Black Market Disappear

A draft paper on legalization prepared for the federal government, and obtained by the Canadian Press, warns officials that regulating cannabis won’t make the black market disappear.

While the Liberals have continued to stress that legalization is about reducing harm to children and removing organized crime from cannabis sales, the paper warned that criminals infiltrating the legal system is an issue the government needs to deal with as it moves toward legalization in 2017.

“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 paper says. “Given the degree to which organized crime is currently involved in the marijuana market, they could continue to produce marijuana illicitly and may attempt to infiltrate a regulated industry.”

The paper warns of several issues related to legalization, including:

  • Pressure from criminal elements to use more serious and dangerous drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth;
  • Enticement of purchasers to become local distributors and therefore embark on a serious criminal path;
  • Exposure to extortion, particularly those who do not pay for purchases or, if entangled in dealing, fail to follow orders or meet quotas.