Many thought legalization would bring an end to the funnel of cash cartels make from cannabis, but as always, the devil is in the details. Legalization was poorly rolled out in many states creating bureaucratic barriers, costly regulations, and high taxes. This has further resulted in new opportunities for cartels to take advantage of vulnerable populations. These cartel grows are commonly found in hidden locations throughout national forests – in areas primarily staffed by undocumented workers. Workers aren’t permitted to leave until the work is done, being held against their will for extended periods of time, ultimately withholding pay and even threatening to retaliate against their families back home. There are millions of responsible cannabis growers across the country but these criminal enterprises undermine the positive results we hope to see from legalization efforts. A more sustainable economic model is needed to be crafted by future policy.
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