Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Human Trafficking -Cannabis Industry Hype by Mark Rose


 The Human Trafficking -Cannabis Industry Hype

You may have seen recent news reports hyping up human trafficking in the cannabis industry. And while it's true that a small amount of illegal cannabis is finding its way into legal dispensaries, I'm here to tell you that the hype is just that—hype.

I should know. I paid a heavy price by losing my Dispensary Grateful Meds in Nederland Colorado because of legislation that was passed in 2010. Prior to that I operated my dispensary using the caregiver model that was voted into our State constitution in 2000 by the people of Colorado, I opened my dispensary  June 1 2009, I think there was 4 dispensaries then. This was well before the state-licensed medical cannabis industry was born. And then of course legalization for personal use later. I had predicted back then that there would be a domino effect and once other States saw that the sky was not falling in Colorado they flipped. I also said that it would be legal Federally in 10 years, people laughed at me. Well it has been past 10 years but there is a bill in Congress for legalization of Cannabis.

Of course a few months after I opened my doors and was lucky enough to get a lot of exposure and my business exploded. A little while after that people saw that I was not getting arrested and that is when the famous Colorado Green Rush started. There is a bigger back story regarding what was going to happen before I opened my doors, 1 of the 3 dispensaries in the State got together a lot of us growers, I should mention I have been hustling smokes my whole life. They wanted to create a monopoly and I felt like I was getting cut out because I did not have anything on paper and I had a arrest record and mostly not in the lucky sperm club, although I was willing to put in my share. But the whole idea of us being exclusive for the whole State seemed to be against everything in my being. Cannabis has been very good to me my whole life, it subsidized my income since I was a teenager. It became a fulltime job many times. So that is why I opened my dispensary and was not hiding it like they had all been doing for the previous 7 years. The next meeting I went to it was agreed since I had started my own dispensary that everyone should, it was every man for themselves at that point. And that is when the real battles played out in the legislation because they wanted to regulate it and were going to no matter what, suddenly the system they had been using for years was obsolete. I was on the side of the people, the patients, yes I owned a dispensary but I was at every hearing fighting for patients rights.
There was blowback I believe because of what I pulled destroying the monopoly plans that were in place, I know a lot of lobbying had been done and I embarrassed a few politicians. That is why I believe they had that felony exception where if you had a felony you could not own or work in the cannabis business. So I've seen firsthand how well regulated and carefully monitored the legal cannabis industry is. There's no way that large amounts of illegal cannabis are getting into dispensaries undetected.

The Real Problem with Illegal Cannabis

So if human trafficking isn't the problem, what is? The real problem is prohibition of any kind. As long as cannabis is illegal at the federal level, there will always be a black market for it. And as long as there's a black market for cannabis, there will always be a risk of human trafficking in it. But it should be asked, was this problem better when Cannabis was illegal? Back when the billions of dollars made from the sale of cannabis in each State annually went to places like Mexico and Columbia. My whole argument when testifying at Colorado's State Legislature regarding legalization was about keeping the money local. When I lived in Nederland where I started my dispensary I preached about keeping the money circulating locally. I believe that on a national scale also, there is no need for us to be importing Cannabis or letting foreign folks that are here illegally have grow operations in our National Forests or middle class neighborhoods.

Cannabis prohibition creates an incentive for criminals to traffic low-quality, unregulated cannabis into states where it's legal. They can sell it for much less than licensed dispensaries because they don't have to comply with costly regulations or pay taxes. This undercuts licensed businesses and drives up prices for consumers, which only further fuels the illegal market. And do not get me wrong, I am all about the private grow and that growers have the right to sell their cannabis at a fair price for the time they put into it. But let's face it not every grower is righteous, I have seen people pull some pretty bad things to be able to dump their crop which should not have been sold because they do not know what they are doing as a grower, or they are just plan Greedy.

It's time for Congress to end cannabis prohibition and finally bring this burgeoning industry out of the shadows. Only then will we be able to fully address the problems of human trafficking and the illegal cannabis market. Until then, the hype surrounding human trafficking in the legal cannabis industry is nothing more than a distraction from the real issue at hand.

                                                                                                  by Mark Rose

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