*Note: This story has been edited. Please disregard previous information concerning Hells Angels, as it is not accurate — deepest apologies!
Concerns over increased violence as biker groups compete for fewer dollars in the drug trade
Police in Alberta, Canada, voiced concern earlier this year that a downturn in the economy might result in more violence among competing motorcycle gangs in the province, as the gangs compete over fewer dollars in the illegal drug trade, as reported by the National Post.
Per the National Post:
In the past five years as the economy boomed, outlaw biker gangs “exploded” and spread throughout the province, said Insp. Darcy Strang of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams.
But now, with the crash in oil prices, officers are worried those gangs will become more cutthroat to maintain market share.
If Canada’s new Liberal government legalizes marijuana — as they have pledged to do — the move could initially have a similar effect on the illegal drugs trade, by decreasing market size and potentially leading to a more competitive and violent relationship between different motorcycle gangs and other organized crime groups.
However, it could also be argued that cutting into the illegal market could be a good thing for overall public safety, by cutting into organized crime groups’ profits and power.
TIME reports that marijuana legalization in some American states has significantly cut into Mexican cartels’ profits, which means “less cash for Mexican cartels to buy guns, bribe police and pay assassins.”
Watch: New Liberal leader Justin Trudeau talks about legalizing marijuana