Marijuana trafficking in Canada produces billions of dollars in criminal revenue every year. A combination of factors such as advanced indoor cultivation, relaxed social stigmas and uncertain enforcement of laws are all contributing to an environment where marijuana trafficking is increasing in popularity. This is following a trend occurring across most of North America. There are several specific reasons why Canada is seeing a rise in marijuana trafficking.
Increased Demand And Profit
One of the realities is that attitudes towards marijuana have been slowly changing over the last two decades. A steadily increasing number of students and adults now perceive marijuana as a harmless recreational drug that is often compared to alcohol. This is driving demand in Canada. The country remains one of the fastest growing markets in the world for marijuana. The high demand translates into profits for individuals and organizations willing to risk prosecution for trafficking. Demand is the main reason that trafficking marijuana has become popular in the country.
Decriminalization efforts have contributed in some ways to the popularity of trafficking marijuana in Canada. The debate about decriminalization started in the 1980s. There are still strong lobbies for decriminalization in the country. This has provided a sense of legitimacy to marijuana use that is contributing to demand. Individuals who use the substance no longer consider possession a serious offense. This attitude is combining with indoor cultivation in order to create a class of traffickers who are bolder and less afraid of prosecution.
The medical use of marijuana has started to blur the line between criminal traffickers and people who have a legitimate need to possess or produce the drug. Medical dispensaries are illegal. This has not stopped their appearance in certain cities. Additionally, some confusion occurs because of the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) that allows a person to possess and produce the drug when given permission by a medical professional. Traffickers sometimes perceive the growing and distribution of medical marijuana to be within the law even through it is not.
Free Trade Agreements
A major reason that trafficking has increased in Canada is the result of the free trade agreements that North American countries signed in 1994. These agreements were specifically designed to promote mutual economic prosperity by allowing neighboring countries to exchange goods more freely. Part of this easy trade infrastructure meant that it become far easier to move marijuana between countries. The flow of marijuana from Mexico to the United States and then into Canada has increased since free trade regulations were first implemented.
New efforts are being enacted to try to reduce the amount of marijuana trafficking occurring in Canada. Although there have long been minimum sentences for trafficking, small changes to the laws enacted at the end of 2012 will make it more difficult for criminals to escape with minimum sentences. The new guidelines are untested and might arrive in the Supreme Court of Canada once a case is prosecuted. Anyone caught trafficking marijuana in Canada with more than three kilograms of the substance can be subject to a life sentence. The effects of the new regulations as well as federal attitudes towards increased enforcement are yet to be determined.
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