El Mirage Slayings Highlight the Ongoing Dangers of Cannabis

Cannabis legalization was supposed to curb the illegal marijuana trade, resulting in greater regulation and safer communities. But eight years after voters approved Prop 64, California’s illicit cannabis market remains robust – and dangerous.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that six people found fatally shot in El Mirage last week were killed over a marijuana dispute. Some of the victims’ bodies were found burned at the gruesome scene.

As the Los Angeles Times notes, the incident “marks the latest act of shocking violence in isolated areas of California where a black market for pot has flourished.”  

“The plague is the black market of marijuana and certainly cartel activity, and a number of victims are out there,” said San Bernardino Sheriff Shannon Dicus.

The illicit market has thrived, as high taxation and burdensome regulations make legitimate marijuana businesses hard to establish. Meanwhile, Prop 64 reduced criminal penalties for illicit cannabis activities, lowering the risk for criminals and hobbling law enforcement’s ability to snuff out bad actors. The result is increased violence and environmental degradation in places like Mount Shasta Vista, the Mojave Desert, the North Coast, and the Sierra Nevada.

San Bernardino authorities have arrested five men in connection with the latest slayings in El Mirage, and they don’t believe there are any additional suspects at large. But unless something changes, they expect it to happen again. 


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