“Organized crime” is defined so broadly that any three people breaking the law together are “organized crime”

Technically any three people who break the law together are defined as “organized crime”:

Section 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code defines a criminal organization as, “a group, however organized, that (a) is composed of three or more persons in or outside Canada; and, (b) has as one of its main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more serious offences, that, if committed, would likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group or by any one of the persons who constitute the group.”

That means every grower who sells to a dealer who sells to a user is involved in “organized crime”.

In practice, the courts have held that the end user does not constitute a conspirator:

R. v. Kelly, 1984 CanLII 2581 (SK CA)

However, even lawyers could not guarantee that this situation would remain “good law”, but currently the situation of the user being considered a part of the conspiracy remains “outside the realm of reality”. 

Regardless, given the fact that most people consider “organized crime” as a label that should be reserved for dangerous people, and the definition of organized crime does not reflect that reality, one must assume that the broad definition is just another means to brutalize and destroy the lives of the vast majority of the growers and dealers in Canada, who are unarmed and not dangerous.


By the same token, a group of people who engage in illegal cannabis growing could be defined as “organized criminals” according to Canada’s legal definition of organized crime. But describing them as organized crime conflates that legal definition with society’s understanding of organized crime, which includes “the use of coercion and violence,” according to Capler.

“We think of dangerous organized criminals with weapons, and that’s the people that society generally wants to distance itself from,” Capler says.

Phantom enemy

Combating organized crime is a major reason for legalizing cannabis, say police and legislators. But is the black market really controlled by gangsters?