Pubdate: Mon, 25 Apr 2016
Source: National Post (Canada)
Page: A1
Copyright: 2016 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Jim Bronskill


Marijuana Report

Organized Crime Expected To Infiltrate Trade

Legalizing marijuana won't automatically make Canada's black market
for weed go up in smoke or banish organized crime, warns a draft
federal discussion paper on regulation of the drug.

Justin Trudeau's Liberal government says a legal marijuana regime will
keep pot out of the hands of children and deny criminals the profits
of illicit dealing.

However, the December draft paper, obtained by The Canadian Press
through the Access to Information Act, flags the ongoing involvement
of organized crime - including possible infiltration of the new system
- - as a key issue the government must confront.

The Liberals plan to introduce legislation next year to remove
marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal
Code, and create new laws to punish more severely those who provide
pot to minors or drive while under its influence.

In the Commons, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale recently said the
new system would do a far better job of stopping the flow of shady
money "to illegal gangs and organized crime."

The draft discussion paper outlines a more complex

"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."
Canada's illegal market for marijuana is estimated to be worth
billions of dollars and organized crime is known to play a major role
in illicit production, importation and distribution, the paper says.
That means those who obtain pot - with the exception of sanctioned
medical users - are exposed to criminal elements.

The paper warns of severe risks and consequences:

- - 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

The federal and provincial governments should have the power to levy
taxes on marijuana, the C.D. Howe Institute recommended in a recently
published report.

The federal government should discourage black-market activity by
defining the legal amount of pot someone can possess, as well as
maintaining and building on penalties for illegal production and
trafficking, the think-tank argued.  
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