Organized crime groups and gangs in Canada are more likely to produce and traffic drugs such as crystal methamphetamine and cocaine than they are cannabis, according to a Statistics Canada report outlined by the Globe and Mail.
The report examined all drug-related violations in Victoria, Vancouver, Regina, and Waterloo, Ontario in 2013 and 2014, and found that while organized crime groups were linked to 75 percent of all heroin-trafficking cases, 62 percent of all cocaine-trafficking cases, and 60 percent of all methamphetamine-trafficking cases; they were linked to 39 percent of all cannabis-trafficking cases, and to just 6 percent of all cannabis cultivation cases.
And while the report’s authors caution that the scope of the research is too limited to determine the extent of the role organized crime has in Canada’s illicit cannabis trade; Neil Boyd, drug prohibition scholar and professor at Simon Fraser University, says the report contradicts common Royal Canadian Mounted Police wisdom and that the researchers’ definition of “organized crime” – three or more people who commit a serious crime to profit – is misleading.
“To people who know how this industry has taken shape in many parts of British Columbia, this wouldn’t be news and, if anything, it would still amount to an over-emphasis on the extent of the organized criminal involvement,” Boyd said in the report.
Staff-Sergeant Lindsey Houghton, spokesman for British Columbia’s anti-gang task force, said that gangs are always seeking the products with the highest profit margin and few gangsters are charged with producing and trafficking cannabis.
“The profit margin for the same quantity of fentanyl versus marijuana is significantly greater,” he said. “Never mind the startup and labor intensity that goes into massive large-scale marijuana grow operations that we’ve all seen pictures of – you need warehouses for that.”
The Liberal-led federal government is expected to introduce a plan to nationally legalize adult-use cannabis in the spring.