Since the United States banned cannabis, it has become easier to cultivate the plant abroad and ship it in. Since prohibition attracts those who aren’t always honest, Mexican drug cartels have become major suppliers of cannabis to the United States.
Colorado had a problem with these Mexican drug cartels and in 2012 the residents voted to legalize.
Now consumers can purchase from Colorado farmers. American “bootleggers” can disperse quality Colorado cannabis to other US states, putting a damper on the profits of Mexican cartels.
It’s simple supply and demand. If there is no demand for underground Mexican cannabis then, eventually, there won’t be a supply, either.
In Oct. 2015, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported that there has been a year-on-year 23 per cent reduction in border smuggling of cannabis. Other reports cite a 70 per cent drop since Colorado legalized.
And this was all done by simply legalizing. Not by dragging feet or talking it over with special interest groups like police chiefs, provincial bureaucrats or addiction “experts.” There was no concerted effort to remove Mexican drug cartels from Colorado’s cannabis market.
All Colorado did was legalize, giving adults the right to grow and sell, and through market forces, the Mexican drug cartels lost their profits.
Now the DEA is worried that Mexican cartels are setting up shop — legally — in Colorado. But considering that this organization still thinks cannabis is more dangerous than alcohol, this conjecture can be taken with a grain of salt.
Besides, if a former-Mexican grower moves to Colorado and takes part in the legal regime, then he’s not exactly a criminal anymore, is he?
This important lesson has been lost on Canada’s politicians, special interest groups and the media.
All the rage is about how to legalize properly as to “keep it out of the hands of organized crime” and of course, “the children.”
We can discount the last bit since teenagers are going to smoke pot whether you like it or not — it’s all part of growing up and it’s still safer than alcohol or nicotine.
But how does one eliminate the organized crime syndicate? And here, I’m not talking about British Columbia’s peaceful community of farmers, extraction crews and various dispensaries and compassion clubs.
I mean actual criminals that are only in the cannabis business because it’s their niche to break the law and profit from it.
In a legal environment, these people would switch to something else. So long as the government forbids certain behaviours and activities, there will be people circumventing the rules and providing for the black market.
However, if Liberal legalization serves the top few at the expense of everyone else, not only will they fail to eradicate the “grey” or “black” cannabis market, the Liberals will establish their own drug cartel.
Right now, this legal drug cartel is known as Canada’s licensed producers. Free to grow and stockpile (and work out back-room deals with dispensaries) without fear of raids from law enforcement, the LPs are Canada’s version of the Mexican drug cartels.
Like the cartels in Mexico, the LPs don’t mind calling for violence against their competition.
Like the cartels in Mexico, the LPs don’t mind working closely with the government.
Like the cartels in Mexico, the LPs demand a tight, regulated regime where only they have the power to grow and sell.
If Canada’s drug czar Bill Blair is serious about ending organized crime in the cannabis trade, he need only look at Colorado.
Free the market and watch consumers patronize mom-and-pop farmers and dispensaries while the violent producers take a hit.
In Canada, that would mean legalizing BC Bud and breaking up Canada’s version of a Mexican drug cartel — the LPs.