November 7, 2011

Report: Mexican Drug Cartels Infiltrating Calif. Medical Pot Industry

Brace yourself for a barrage of attacks from the anti-MMJ crowd. And with good reason.

A recent investigative report by Full Disclosure Network – a non-profit public affairs program that focuses on investigative pieces – claims that members of various drug cartels based in Mexico are surreptitiously taking control of industrial marijuana farms in California.

According to retired L.A. County Sheriff Sgt. Richard Valdemar, the cartels have created a mafia-like environment defined by threats of violence and other forms of intimidation. Representatives of the cartels in the United States reportedly dupe unsuspecting farmers, saying they want to lease land for medical marijuana operations. They then funnel the weed grown on the properties to the cartels, which distribute the drugs throughout their networks. When the farmers who own the  land realize what’s going on, the cartels threaten violence if the police are notified. In one case, the cartels even threatened a man’s family. Valdemar says that the cartels often fail to pay workers – who are illegal immigrants – as well as the farmers and use numerous “bullying” tactics.

If you try to dispute something with them, “they are not going to to take you to court and sue you, they’re going to kill you and you’re going to be found in one of those fields, buried,” Valdemar says on the program.

“The whole state is being taken over by these cartel-run marijuana industrial-size farms,” he added later in the piece.

Valdemar goes on to talk about the dangers of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes or recreational use, citing the situation in the U.S. after Prohibition ended. Al Capone, for instance, grew even more dangerous when alcohol was legalized, and the same scenario will play out with the Mexican cartels, Valdemar said. “It  will corrupt California,” he added.

Titled “The Dark Side of Medical Marijuana,” the report is definitely worrisome for the industry and could give MMJ a serious black eye. This is the type of news that can sink the entire sector, creating a huge amount of backlash. If true, it’s also a serious problem that must be dealt with quickly.

However, it is a very one-sided report based on a single interview. No attempts are made to examine the extent of the problem or shed light on whether the government is concerned or doing anything about it. There also hasn’t been much reaction to the report from the public, law enforcement or elected officials.

And here’s an interesting side note. Full Disclosure Network included a short poll on its website below the video. One question asked viewers whether they think marijuana should be legal. Roughly 85% said yes, despite having viewed the report about the dangers of medical pot.

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