Marijuana legalization in California may have led to increased criminal activity, according to a new report issued by the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program (HIDTA).
“Legalization of recreational cannabis in California has likely invited more criminality connected to the production and transportation of the drug, especially by DTOs and organized criminal groups,” the report to Congress says.
Backed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the drug-prohibition enforcement program aims to reduce to drug production and trafficking. Its latest annual report listed a number of complaints about state-level marijuana legalization, coming from police enforcement from several regions.
Police enforcement in states where recreational cannabis is not legal, like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas, reported that illegal trafficking groups sell marijuana and THC products mainly sourced from Colorado and the West Coast.
What’s Happening With California?
The Northern California HIDTA pointed to “ancillary violence” in connection to marijuana trafficking and “weed’ rips,” which seems to be on the rise following the legalization of marijuana.
“Human trafficking and smuggling, strong-armed robberies, home invasions, and murder was linked to the marijuana trade,” the report says.
Moreover, some legal businesses in the Golden State allegedly support criminal groups in their cannabis endeavors.
“Criminal groups documented in the NC HIDTA AOR have created or partnered with ostensibly legal businesses to conduct illicit production and trafficking,” the report continues.
In addition to widespread violence, illegal marijuana cultivation businesses are becoming a “serious environmental threat” as they are “polluting and diverting water sources and poisoning wildlife.”
Cannabis advocates are criticizing the report stressing that it is biased on the side of the ONDCP’s stance on federal cannabis legalization. Although it is sadly true that legalization seems to be failing to curb the black market, especially in California.
High taxes, the cost of obtaining a license and the lack of resources devoted to enforcement action against illegal operators seem to be among the reasons for the struggling market in California, which recently celebrated the sixth anniversary of legalizing recreational cannabis.
Moreover,many illegal operators get away only with a slap on the wrist when caught, which allows them to resume operations.