How decriminalizing cannabis could hurt ISIS, mafia

In a Reuters report, Italy's top prosecutor claims decriminalizing cannabis would be a blow to terrorists and mobsters.  Here’s what you need to know.

By Bronte Price, PoliticKING

In an interview with Reuters, Italy's top prosecutor states that decriminalizing cannabis sales could have a negative impact on the so-called Islamic State and on Italian mobsters who are smuggling hashish together. The national anti-mafia and anti-terrorism chief, Franco Roberti, told Reuters that the main smuggling route for North African hash, which is compressed cannabis resin, runs from Casablanca, Morocco, through Algeria, Tunisia to Tobruk in eastern Libya.

The most powerful Islamic State branch outside of Syria and Iraq is on that route in the city of Sirte, Libya.  "Certainly IS controls the Libya route; it controls the coast along the Gulf of Sirte," said Roberti.

He explained that police have found evidence that Italian organized crime is working together with "suspected terrorists" in North Africa in order to traffick hash.  "Decriminalization or even legalization would definitely be a weapon against traffickers, among whom there could be terrorists who make money off of it," he told Reuters.

The United Nations Office on Narcotics and Crime reports that the illegal drugs trade, including cannabis and hash, earns Italian organized crime more than 32 billion euros ($36.10 billion) annually.

Nostri added that IS and the Italian mafia crime commit similar crimes. "International terrorism finances itself with criminal activities that are typical of the mafia, like drug trafficking, smuggling commercial goods, smuggling oil, smuggling archaeological relics and art, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion," he said.

He continued that officials who combat drug trafficking are spending too much time tracking down cannabis dealers. "We spend a lot of resources uselessly. We have not succeeded in reducing cannabinoid trafficking. On the contrary, it's increasing," Roberti said. "Is it worth using investigative energy to fight street sales of soft drugs?" he asked.

Here’s what Pulitzer Prize winner Joby Warrick has to say about ISIS:

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