Pubdate: Tue, 15 Aug 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Peter Edwards


'Disorganized criminals,' new law force mob, bikers away from meagre

Once a relatively safe, profitable business for outlaw bikers and
mobsters, organized crime is moving away from the marijuana market
because legalization and homegrown pot are making any gain not worth
the risk, experts say.

The market share in the pot business for organized criminals has
already slid as pot-loving "disorganized criminals" perfected their
horticultural skills. There wasn't much need to smuggle pot into the
country when Canadian cannabis connoisseurs liked the homegrown stuff
better, experts say.

The days when Hells Angels and mobsters enjoyed a strong hand in
Canada's marijuana trade will be just a hazy memory by the time pot is
to be legalized next year, according to some experts.

"A pretty small part of the marijuana industry today is what I call
organized crime," said criminologist Neil Boyd of Simon Fraser
University - a change from a few decades ago, when criminals thrived
in the pot trade.

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. Others are in it for the money, but don't resort to
traditional organized crime hallmarks of corruption, collusion and
violence, Boyd says: "They're really just business people."

In Toronto, police will continue to crack down on illegal marijuana
dispensaries until the law is changed, spokesperson Mark Pugash said,
adding that pot at some pop-ups has been found to contain pesticides,
mould, rat feces and insecticide.

Experts agree it will be a mistake for the government to overtax
marijuana and drive the price up, as this will create an opening for

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supports the push to regulate illegal
pot pop-ups. In a meeting with the Star's editorial board in December,
Trudeau said: "We haven't legalized it yet. Yes, we got a clear
mandate to do that. We've said we will. We've said we're going to do
it to protect our kids and to keep the money out of the pockets of
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