Two recent news stories reinforce the need for consumers to ensure they buy marijuana from a legal dispensary. Even in states where marijuana is legal, criminal elements continue to try to sell illegal marijuana outside the legal cannabis marketplace.
Illegal marijuana is not grown to meet safe regulatory standards, meaning people who buy it have no real idea what they are putting into their bodies. However, enough people remain interested enough, because criminals keep getting bolder with illegal marijuana transportation and sales.
Two recent stories illustrate this point. They also show that if you deal in illegal cannabis, eventually you stand a strong chance of getting caught.
A Multi-State Drug Ring Busted by Feds
The federal grand jury recently indicted 15 people who worked in an ambitious criminal enterprise that used “commercial-level logistics and warehousing” to transport illegal marijuana by plane and by semi-truck, according to the Department of Justice. A 36-year-old California man oversaw the enterprise, which also involved others in California, as well as Indiana and Kentucky.
The DOJ charged the 15 people with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and THC-containing products and to launder the cash proceeds from selling the cannabis. The indictments came after law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at 23 locations in the three states. They also seized more than a dozen bank accounts and a “trove of high-end jewelry.”
The ring has operated since 2016. In six years of moving “tractor-trailer loads of marijuana,” the organization made millions. They used cashier’s checks and bank accounts to launder the money. During the searches, law enforcement seized $40 million in marijuana, alleged proceeds from marijuana sales, and assets purchased with profits. They included:
- $8 million in cash
- A $900,000 private jet
- Two Rolls-Royces, two Bentleys, a Ford GT, and a Lamborghini, valued at $2 million
- $8 million in high-end jewelry
- $10 million in real estate
- $850,000 in artwork and collectible items
Marijuana Transported as “Pool Toys”
In another recent incident, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than a ton of illegal marijuana that criminals transported in shipments marked “pool toys.” Authorities intercepted the shipment, which originated in Michigan, at a border crossing into Canada.
They detected the illegal marijuana with an x-ray scan of the truck, followed by a physical search that included a K-9 team. They found 2,175 pounds of marijuana concealed in boxes marked as foam pool toys.
Both these stories show the lengths criminals will go to get illegal marijuana onto the market, even in legal cannabis states. That’s important for consumers to know. Every legal state that sells cannabis grants licenses to growers, transporters and retailers. All must meet safety and health standards. Many cannabis companies design products to promote health and wellness. Dispensaries also have personnel who help people choose the right cannabis that meets their needs.
Illegal marijuana meets none of these standards. Even if offered at cheap prices, they represent a gamble to cannabis consumers.
Buying illegal marijuana also hurts cannabis businesses that have made the investments and done the work to operate in a legal market. They already face difficult challenges, such as getting banking services. Consumers who give their money to criminals rather than legal dispensaries are hurting the legal industry that so many people worked hard to establish.