CannaBiz: The Secret Economy of Marijuana

CannaBiz: The Secret Economy of MarijuanaCanada's $20 billion-dollar marijuana industry is now at a violent crossroads between crime and commerce. Impossible to police, yet steadily gaining public acceptance, the cannabis industry is now so vast and vital to Canada's national economy that it can no longer be ignored.

CannaBiz unfolds in Grand Forks, BC, a small border town nestled in the Kootenay Mountains, where draft dodgers planted the first BC Bud in the 1960s. After the pine beetle chewed through what was left of the forest industry, marijuana became the backbone of the local economy.

In secret forest plots, basements, barns and high-tech underground bunkers, growers nurture some of the world's most potent bud. Most of the marijuana here, and in the rest of Canada, is destined for the US market, where a pound of premium weed sells for a street price of $4,500.

Across the country, formerly laid-back marijuana growers now live in fear of armed thieves, and smugglers take huge risks to cross the beefed up American border. Conflicted police and RCMP officers like Harland Venema continue to fight a seemingly futile battle.

In Grand Forks, Brian Taylor, once nicknamed the marijuana mayor, is campaigning for medical marijuana as a prescription for economic prosperity. Ex con Sam Mellace dreams of supplying medical marijuana nationally through Shoppers Drug Mart outlets.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 44 minutes)

Ratings: 8.17/10from 12 users.

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45 Comments / User Reviews

  1. oQ

    To all residents of the Kootenay region:
    The most important employer in our area has been underground, it is called marijuana. The city of Nelson has prospered in the last 30 yrs because of it, and I don't exaggerate. Too many are not aware of the millions of dollars poured into our town by those involved in one way or an other. There are hundreds and perhaps thousands of people involved in the industry. It takes money to spend money. From building material to equipment and gardening products, man power for planting, trimming, getting it to those who buy it by the 20$ bag....and that's forgetting restaurant, massage parlor, yoga classes, ski hill pass. It creates jobs, sales and growth.
    The term BC Bud used to describe Kootenay pot, some of the best on the entire west coast at one time. Now the government wants to shut down every one in the region, I can just imagine the impact this is going to have on ALL communities and business.
    People need to rally and get out of the hush hush about the business. It has made our city what it is and those who deny this are blind to their environment.
    See the example of Colorado, they woke up despite their country!

  2. stepitup_onenotch

    Part 5 was blocked by the CBC - why would they do that? It was such an interesting film. Pot smoking will never go away, governments are only kidding themselves.

  3. Mounir

    i like cannabiz

  4. IrwellPete

    How annoying - Part five was blocked by CBC to UK

  5. bud_oracle

    With the claimed increased risk due to the Safe Streets Act the prices will go up and soon it will be worth 40 billion. What kind of idiocy is this?


    A 20 B Ba ba billion dollar crop!

  7. Zach Fraser

    im sure they can make alot more money keeping it as a black market type thing im mean we all know its the goverment which synthysiced most drugs in the first place and i know it wasnt by accident. I dont think legalizing pot will help the state of people either i mean f*** look at the sate of half the dead s***s and im sure ull agree people need to face problems not hide from them i had smoked for years and years without realiseing i was someone who used it as *cough*cough* medicine lol well thats what i used to say to justifiy it but i can promise you all it has not healed me of my anxiety or depresion problems onley intensified it greatly it may seem as though it does these things while your stoned as f*** but try getting off the s*** for a while an youll see the problem is much much more than what it begun as.

    1. ryan erickson

      you cant be trusted.

    2. jason

      Are you serious? I did not know "cannabis withdrawal" existed. Now, prove me if I'm wrong, but I always thought it was a "damn, I really wish i could smoke some weed right now" as opposed to a "damn, I'm gonna go rob a liquor store or a convenient store/pharmacy due to my crack and/or heroin and/or alcohol and/or pharmaceutical pain killer and/or any and all symptom reducing pharmaceutical "medicine"," addiction.

    3. Bruno Gonzalez

      nuh uh not for me.

  8. Olavson

    Those politicians who keep it illegal either make money on it, or they dont know shit about it.

  9. His Forever

    My neighbor (here in the Philippines) is smoking pot and I can smell it very strongly from our house! And someone is playing a zylaphone! I hate zylaphones! I hope it's a kid and not the "toker". How can anyone enjoy playing that thing for hours? Often. It made me want to come check Topdoc comments to see if any new posts were up on this CannaBiz documentary. How funny is that!?! ;-)

  10. KsDevil

    Recreational use is for fools who can't deal with life. They deserve trouble. However, medical and industrial use of plants should encouraged. It's just sound business sense. Regulation, llcensing, auditing are effective methods in producing a product free of defects and genetically enhanced to meet the market needs. Individuals are just not equipt to handle such an operation. Only corporations should be allowed to farm marijuana.

    1. Guest

      The simple fool is one who knows not, and knows not that he knows not.
      The second fool is one who knows not but thinks that he knows.
      The third fool is one who knows he knows not, he is the smartest of all fools.

    2. documental

      Are you dense? Did you miss the part of the documentary that stated that this amazing plant does not require pesticides or genetic modification to thrive? Are you aware that it is pound for pound perhaps the most abundant and resilient herb known to man?

      Has it not occurred to you that "individuals".. not corporations.. have been meeting the "market needs" quite efficiently since.. forever?.. LOL.. Even in the face of a failed prohibition and tons being seized each year.. I'd say the market needs have been more than met.. they have been exceeded.

      Also, what "defects" do you expect sensimillia to have? Remove the males, provide water, sunlight, and nutrients, and potency and yield is guaranteed. Cannabis does not need genetic modification, it is one of the most genetically flexible plants on earth; all desired traits can be achieved through simple selective breeding.

      There are cannabis plants that grow 2 feet tall with several ounces of bud, and those that grow 25 feet tall with less than a quarter ounce of bud (hemp varieties). There are even varieties that are completely resistant to spider mites and other pests.

      For god's sake man, people with debilitating diseases are producing pounds of this stuff in their closets every 60 days. What the hell are you talking about?

      Do you even know what the process of genetic modification entails? They forcefully inject the genes of various organisms in nature (with the most popular being those extracted from viruses and bacteria), with no studies conducted to determine long-term health effects. In fact, the most popular forms of genetic modification actually cause the plant to produce its own TOXINS (i.e. - GMO corn that produces the BT toxin). Then the public ingests these toxins on a daily basis so that the corporations can maximize profits.

      The moment corporations monopolize the marijuana industry is the moment that this sacred and beneficial herb is desecrated and turned into the same toxic mess that tobacco has been turned into by the cigarette industry.

      Oh, and your perception that recreational users are "losers" is ludicrous . Some of the most successful and influential people who have ever walked the earth enjoyed and utilized the introspect, euphoria and creativity offered by this incredible natural wonder. You my friend are a sherson (singular form of SHEEPLE)!

    3. Lil2k7

      u sound like another over opinionated douche. have a decent day sir and plz open your eyes.

    4. Danger Robertson

      I like how you call someone an opinionated douche and later go on to say "thats my opinion and you have no ground to whatsoever to stand on and tell me im wrong."

  11. jilted_generation

    been smoking for 6 years now, "One spliff a day keeps the evil away" :)

    Still, with the risk of seeming arrogant, there are alot of people out there who should never touch it. That beeing said, I like that it's illegal (Altough there are countries that hang you even for 5g or so - that's not cool).

  12. Guest

    Interesting doc.

  13. Jennifer Snow

    hemp is from heaven - God's creations - Pot smokers 62% less likely to develope cancer! FREE the HERB! FREE the TREE! One acre of hemp = 500 gallons of fuel in a season! Who'se so STUDID? those who prohibit the real truth!!!

    1. Guest

      I often said if the gov really wanted to do bad to the pot industry they would grow huge fields of hemp everywhere. This would pollinize the outdoor pot near by. I know of an area in the Koots where this was about to happen, a farmer wanted to grow hemp for seeds and the growers rallied together to stop it. They did, the farmer took his idea somewhere else.
      By the way hemp seed is succulent and rich in nutrients.
      Goggle: Rocky Mountain Hemp Hearts

    2. Epicurus

      we sell those in my store! yay for Hemp.

    3. Guest

      thumbs up for a health food store in Toronto! the wrong kind of store.
      Ho well! may be it's a health mind store!

    4. Anthony Young

      Potsmokers = 100% less likely to start a war. Make us your leaders for world peace. >:^}~

    5. Lil2k7

      i am 10000% in agreeance. i love how retarded and closeminded our world is just as much as i hate it becuz where else could i, a 21 yo able bodied male not work a day straight outta high school and have a steady, better income than joe blow w an AA? i bet mars economy sure isnt that f--ked off!

  14. His Forever

    That was a very interesting documentary.

    If there weren't so many stupid "potheads" abusing it for the high, and selling it to our kids, then the government wouldn't worry about it so much, and then the rest of us could find a way to utilize its medical benefits for cancer treatment, or even suppliments, etc. Thanks potheads!

    Not sure how to fix the problem. Do you really think that leagalization of marijuana is the answer? I'd hate to think of a national income from the legalization of pothead heaven!

    I've not met any Christian potheads, by the way. Unsure of my opinion on such a person.

    If it weren't illeagal, I'd try a cookie I'd suppose.

    1. Guest

      Do you have friends who smoke cigarettes? Who drink wine, beer or hard liquor? Do you eat chocolat? Do you drink coffee in the morning? If you or your close ones, do or did, any of these at one time or an other, you and them, would have acted against the law in some era.

      Children are much more likely to drink or smoke cigarettes before they smoke pot because most of them can sneak it out of their home specially in red-neck areas or religious communities where people as you say do not smoke pot (I've not met any Christian potheads, by the way. Unsure of my opinion on such a person.) ....but there again you may be completely in the wrong because in those areas most people who smoke pot would smoke in a closet!

      I suggest you get a joint, smoke it in private and go for a walk in the woods, the mountains, the beach...go in nature. It may not make you much wiser but at least you will be able to talk from Know Ledge.
      Are you afraid of cops or afraid of pot? May be you watch too much C-N-N.

    2. His Forever

      You are a witty one, I'll say that much! :-) Most of my wife's family are alcoholics and smokers both, and I hate both practices immensely. I rarely drink coffee, but I do love chocolate, but currently they are not considered "illeagal" drugs. When was chocolate illegal and for what reason? I know gold coins were not legal to own at one point in time too. The government does not always get it right, that's for sure.

      Hopefully my kids will avoid the pittfalls of smoking, etc. as I'm trying to faithfully teach them better. Sugar intake is a harder issue to deal with, actually.

      As far as secret pot smokers in the Christian community, that would be difficult as the smell is so distinctive, and clings to everything--clothes, cars, hair, etc. My older brothers smoked pot (the one that's spend half of his life in jail and other half on welfare after a motorcycle accident) so I know what it smells like. I'm sure there are some church-goers that do (and I'm glad they're in church rather than not in church), but I've not met any "solid" Christians that smoke weed. Just an observation. I just don't think the smoking of weed is compatable with a Christian's persuit of Godliness.

      But, I would say that the use of cannibis for medical and health reasons would be ok. Perhaps that is what God created it for in the first place--as a healing erb. It's a shame that we can't utilize cannibis' potential for healing reasons fully due to other's abuse of it as a recreational "drug".

      But, it does seem to be quite mild compared to other drugs, and perhaps less addictive. I have had pothead friends, but never a methhead as a friend--by choice. Mellow is far better than psycho for sure!

      Peace to you.

      Charles B.

      P.S. I like Fox! LOL C and N is my wife and I. :-) Funny.

    3. Guest

      Ha,Ha, love it, Jesus was a toker, Jesus used marijuana, or at least the oil. According to @Epicurus link.

      Maybe it was not Amanita Muscaria that I have referred to in many posts that gave religious epiphanies.

      Could it be (Greek term) "Kannabis" that gave the religious epiphanies Hmmm? seems viable to me.

      Charles, you will have to read the whole link that @Epicurus gave to give any rebuttals, as am sure you will, because of all the scriptures involved.

    4. His Forever

      I have a reply for Epic, but it's in moderation (I think because I also included a link). After about an hour of research, I seriously don't think cannabis was used in the anointing oil, but I'm not opposed to the proper use of cannabis. God created it for a purpose, but I don't think it was for the purpose of getting "high," especially in Jesus case.

      Peace to you!

    5. Lil2k7

      im a potsmoking christian! i believe in god and that jesus is real, call me a nut but i do have a relationship w a higher power, thats my opinion and you have no ground to whatsoever to stand on and tell me im wrong. im not trying to turn this religious at all, just proving a point. our creator gave us this herb becuz he knew that we d need it, we ve really jacked this world up, and he knew itd happen. recent studies prove that heavy potsmokers are at a lower risk of any type of cancer than ppl who dont drink or smoke anything. cigarette smokers are at over 2000% elevated risk, this has to do in part w how industrialized and processed nearly everything we consume is. did u kno that cannabis plant has many of the same exact carcinogens that tobacco studies have proven to be cancerous yet potsmokers are clearly at so much less risk of obtaining these cancers. alot of this info can b found right here at tdf, the medical cannabis doc is a great one, also watch the union the business behind getting high, im sure you can google it, proof that even your world w o pot in it is drastically effected by it.

      sry, im done ranting lol.

  15. igbymac

    Quite hypocritically the Canadian government does not see itself as in the business of destroying lives.

    Yet Canada has a couple hundred-million dollar military arms industry -- arms designed specifically to destroy lives through warfare, where 90% of casualties are now innocent by-standers. Canada is also involved in illegal and wholly immoral Imperialist war campaigns (Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq despite its denial), all without Parliamentary or public consultation.

    In Canada one can go to jail for growing the wrong vegetation, while businesses receive very lucrative tax-subsidized contracts to manufacture and export armaments. Instead of being a gardener, one's deemed a criminal. And instead of being a first degree murderer, one's apt to be given a medal of honour and called a hero. I guess we all have our hallucinations.

    When will we ever learn we cannot behave the same as our enemies but remain convinced we stand on higher moral ground?

  16. Mad

    In America they even have a church of cannabis, these Canadian crop destroyers are a--holes. I hope their stupid drug laws backfire on them and in the end they are forced to slaves on a pot plantation.

  17. Nathan Daniel

    Shoot the police officers, shoot the politicians, and shoot anyone who wishes to suppress the rights of other individuals. This makes me sick.

    1. evo

      You'd have to shoot yourself then, as you're suppressing their right to free speech, and ultimately their right to life.

    2. Guest

      Although i am all for legalization and quite aware of the industry, i think your comment is at the root of the main problem...GUNS and POT do not make good chemistry! That will really make one sick or dead for that matter!

    3. His Forever

      Ah, ok . . . . . all people with radical agendas, convictions, and ideologies should be shot!

      But, let's not shoot any police officers; they're the good guys for the most part. Please.

  18. Guest

    Thanks for posting...
    When i came to live in Nelson (1 1/2hr from GF) the first time in 1980, nearly half the population was on welfare. Pot growing has changed that, the economy of Nelson has boomed. The money made by the growers is instantly reinvested in the local businesses (and they know that). 100 bills have been a popular way to pay for anything around here, more so than credit card. Nelson is an art community, people live slowly, people have fun and work less than in many other places. They ski in the winter (great ski hill), they boat(super lake and beaches) in the summer, they built beautiful homes, the music venues have great concerts (being between Vancouver and Calgary). There is a knitted group of growers who stand for each other and do not allow gangs and warlords to infiltrate what has worked for over 30 yrs.
    This was and still is a Hyppie/Yupie/Artsy community....and i hope it stays that way! Watch Roxanne with Steve'll see!

  19. Alan Jamieson

    totally, prohibition makes the problems - but they know this, the banks get the illigal money aswell as legal, so they dont care . 2nd biggest income to world banks is illigal drug money, first is war profits. and what do people do with good investments - keep it sweet. even if it cured cancer they woudlnt let it be used untill they could put their name on it and make profit- money before people!

    1. Wolf Wildwood

      Actually, it does cure cancer.
      Google 'Run from the Cure'

  20. daominous

    Its very similar to the Humboldt County pot trade in California..

    1. Guest

      Humboldt is like the big good brother for us (as in we) BC Buds...i travelled through in a hyppie bus in 1981...what a good time that was!

  21. Simon J Gray

    A lil tip for you America.

    Prohibition makes the problems. As im sure many investors of the security sector know well.

    So sure make it illegal lock up half your children and give the less ethical members of society a tool to propagate there trade.... OR make it legal, tax it to generate wealth as opposed to locking people away requiring taxes to keep them there. It can be regulated and checked for nasty contaminants.

    And we all know that teaching kids that ALL drugs are exactly the same can lead to trying other harder drugs after discovering that this one drug might not be as bad as we have had imprinted in our heads.

    Dont forget Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine ( the list goes on) are legally taxed drugs.

    Research Harry J Anslinger for more info on prohibition.

    So much to say ... those who know do and those that dont generally dont want to.

    Thanks for this doc vlatko ^^

    1. Guest

      Alcohol and tobacco are legal but don't try to grow or produce for sale 'cause you'll be arrested! If it doesn't have GOV Seal it is illegal!