*EDITOR’s Note: We are beginning a new series today called ‘The Truth’, probably our most controversial and groundbreaking series on the marijuana industry yet. We begin with an article from the 1970’s, it is strongly encouraged that readers review our section Required Reading to help put the puzzle pieces together as our new articles are released. Shalom!
Miami Kingpins Jack Up Prices by Al Kammerer (1977)
“ Disguised as big marijuana buyers from the Midwest, a team of investigative reporters recently penetrated the marijuana market [in Florida], discovering that is has been totally taken over by a few wealthy businessmen who boast combined assets totaling hundreds of millions of dollars and there is evidence that these businessmen are receiving direct government protection. Searching into the reason why pot prices have risen 70% or more in the last 2 years, the investigators found what one of them described as ‘a really classic price fixing conspiracy, a veritable OPEC of a marijuana cartel”.
The investigators report that the situation in Miami, which is the American delivery point for most Colombian marijuana, defies the claim of ‘experts’ that a clandestine, compartmentalized cannabis scene could never be cornered. In fact, the marijuana monopoly has apparently manipulated the media and market psychology so masterfully this year that speaker after speaker rose at a recent NORML confab, to deplore the “drought”…more than 2 months after the market broke with an actual glut of marijuana. High prices have been maintained, and the glut has been covered up in the months since.
Like California peach growers who burn trees to keep prices high, the Miami group reportedly warehouses mountains of [marijuana], leaving it to sour and mold until their price is met. One of the investigators, who spoke of experiencing close calls in various criminal circles, is in the process of gathering evidence implicating government and local ‘business’ community figures in a Capone-like web of intrigue and corruption involving the control of [marijuana].
The investigator said that:
“The marijuana cartel is like the diamond cartel. Since diamonds are always in demand, the cartel offers packets at dictated prices that are three times the actual cost, take it or leave it. Being rebellious over the situation only leads to being banned from trading. When interest and cash flow drop due to boredom, low quality or whatever, they cut loose enough good stones, or in this case, [good bud], to draw investors back into the market, where they can again be swamped with bunk goods. It’s a den of thieves, Miami. The middlemen use brainwashing techniques of sensory deprivation and random disturbances by locking the buyer up in motel rooms for days to break down their resistance. You begin seeing and hearing things, so when the phone rings it’s like being struck by a gong”
He goes on to explain how the ‘bunk pot’ is sent to the consumer while prices remain high as ever:
“Even with high grand merchandise, a package deal where they lay some of the bunk on you is the rule with these jerks. Once the intimidated buyer has committed his money, the monopoly vanishes again behind their mercenary middlemen. They sweat you out until you are ready to be plucked like a turkey.”
He opened an attache full of cash and rummaged around until he found a tattered address book. He explained that the number he was about to call a swarthy, heavily muscled gentleman from Hallendale, which was known for its mob connection scene. Apologizing for the weed we were smoking, he volunteered to get his source on the phone if we would pretend to be one of the many stuck with commercial, inferior grade cannabis. When he reached his man, a spirited exchange ensued until he put his hand over the mouthpiece and said “Just tell him you’re stuck with the last and can’t look at anything but gold”
It was somebody heavy on the phone. In the next 5 minutes, we were offered credit, free delivery to anywhere in the U.S. – up to 200 pounds plus the removal of seeds and shake, if we would simply help them sell off their commercial pot. But when we suggested that taking bad stuff, even on a front, always meant losses and that we wanted gold, we were simply told: “The golds and reds* are in, but we have to move off the rest of this commercial stuff before they will cut it loose”. We objected that ‘marijuana was a vegetable’ and that warehousing it would cause it to lose potency. “That’s alright” said the contact “they are putting all the good weed in big freezers this year”.
*Acapulco or Colombian Gold and Panama Red”
In a classic capitalist coup, some super-rich marijuana kingpins in Miami have developed so much excess buying power that they can warehouse pot for months, opening and closing the doors at will, to dictate both price and flow. The marijuana moguls have so much buying capacity that only in the commercial grades is there enough around for a smaller buyer to invest in. they have so much capacity that they can even hold the good stuff off of the market…or allow just enough gold or red to trickle out at super premium prices that prices on commercial grade do not sag too much.
To explain the rise of a Miami-based cartel, insiders point to the fact that is become much harder in the last few years for independents to bring in boats and planes elsewhere, and those who did it cheaply, got cracked. Miami was the one place with a long tradition of government and police collusion that could enable those with money and Mafia lawyers to bargain with the authorities when necessary. The investigator referred to a case where one of his fellow teammates got busted. They located a lawyer who for $4000 made the whole thing evaporate at the police level. A scramble for influence inevitably led to the emergence of a handful of powerful men combining forces and enjoying a dominant position in the trade.
The final takeover of the Colombian market at the end of 1975 by the Miami group solidified prices at a hundred dollars higher than before, never to come down again (*until the passage of Prop 215 in 1997). It is clear that the critics of decriminalization who worry about marijuana being taken over by RJ Reynolds and Big Tobacco shouldn’t worry – pot is already under the thumb of a very large marijuana monopoly.
The investigator capped his report with the new that Don Aemillo, a [transporter] busted last Summer with 180 tons, was actually being escorted into Miami by the Coast Guard to foil jackers, all of the freighters marijuana hit the market. He then made a warning to those who might be interested in taking up a kingpin on offers to get fronted anywhere in the country: “A lot of folks who get fronted get fattened up until, at the end of the season, a couple of jackers visit them with shotguns and take it all, so the victims will be back working for the Miami Boys next year”. We hope this story reaches the New York Times and we hope the investigators stay healthy.
– The Green Chazzan