November 06, 2018, Canada
When he took the first step to legalize recreational marijuana across Canada, the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a mission in mind and that was to clamp down on the mafia-linked to the cannabis industry. However, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC News) recently published a report that shows ties between some of the country’s largest cannabis producers and the organized mafia.
Immediately after the publishing of the report, the marijuana producers under the spotlight denied that they had ever done business with people tied to the mafia or organized crime. Whether or not the claims of the report are true, there is a clear indication that legalizing marijuana would do little to prevent the mafia from stamping their influence on the cannabis industry as there are still a lot of vulnerabilities in the sector that would allow them to seep in through the cracks.
According to the report published by CBC, some of the biggest cannabis producers in Canada had ‘longstanding ties’ with the mafia that included business dealing with the organized criminals. Not only were the producers linked to a powerful mafia family based in Montreal, Quebec, it was also rumored that one of the cannabis growers had bought a business which had a drug trafficker had stakes in. According to the report, the deal involved stock and renting space for a marijuana growing facility.
However, Health Canada has refuted the claims saying that ‘It has found no evidence that no evidence that organized crime has infiltrated one of more than 130 federally registered producers’
The agency says that it has a security screening process that ensures the criminals stay out of the legal marijuana industry. This process involves a preliminary examination of all applicants, and the use of police databases to find if they have any ties to the mafia or other organized criminals. According to the agency, at this point of time, only 10% of all applicants raise some sort of red flag and their applications were denied.
Although one cannot deny the rigorous nature of the Health Canada’s screening process and background checks as companies require naming all their investors, criminals are somehow finding a way in. According to the CBC report, some of the criminals are finding the pot producers through family trusts, which allows them to stay anonymous and silently walk into the legal cannabis market through the back door.
Conservative Senator Claude Carignan had the following advice for the government or Health Canada to be specific:
“If we want to eliminate the Mafia cannabis market, we cannot allow them to use tax havens or trusts to enter indirectly through the back door."
Canada has a flourishing black market for pot and there’s no denying that. Most of the problems arise out of the shortage of legal marijuana in the country. This gives the mafia a chance to stake a claim in the cannabis market and since people and even companies are willing to buy from them, it would be some time before Trudeau can achieve his mission for the legal cannabis industry.