Law Enforcement Targets Interstate Cannabis Distribution

Law enforcement officials are announcing an increased number of cases involving multi-state cannabis distribution. In December, the Drug Enforcement Agency announced five (5) criminal cases that resulted in the seizure of cannabis, money, jewelry, and cars. This week, the Texas Department of Public Safety stopped a U-Haul van carrying 3,350 pounds of cannabis that was heading from San Jose, CA to New York.

The fight against the cannabis black market could see a resurgence of federal enforcement efforts. The legalization of cannabis at the state level has changed the way that law enforcement agencies approach illegal businesses. Cities and counties are developing significant administrative penalties that will replace prior criminal sanctions. However, entities engaged in the interstate transfer of cannabis remain subject to federal criminal drug laws. A crackdown on interstate commerce could reduce the demand for excess supply from legal states.

A review of the DEA’s recent cases shows that efforts are being focused on black market participants that are moving cannabis between states.

  • A Florida man used hidden compartments in tractor-trailers with ton quantities to transport cannabis from Rio Grand Valley to Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina, and Tennessee since 2010. The man will serve over 10 years in prison. The federal authorities also seized over $1.5 million in assets.

  • A member of an Eastern European organized crime network will serve over 15 years for criminal activity including cannabis distribution.

  • A Milford Connecticut man will serve 8 years in prison for trafficking cannabis from California, Texas, Arkansas, West Virginia and Connecticut. Law enforcement found 400 pounds of cannabis in a plane that was intended for distribution in Connecticut.

  • A Texas woman will serve an 11-year sentence for transporting cannabis and methamphetamine into the US from Mexico.

  • A Texas man is facing a 5 – 40-year sentence for intending to distribute 135 kilograms of cannabis.

The recent focus on black market cannabis may mean that the federal agencies will take a larger role in the enforcement efforts. The remaining criminal sanctions may help the legal states reduce the amount of illegal cultivation that is intended for export.

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