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Ottawa and pot: It’s reefer madness: The Cannabis Marketing Board

Posted By On September 23, 2002 @ 12:00 am In Uncategorized | No Comments

Hey dude! Have you figured it out? Marijuana “legalization” isn’t the best thing to ever happen. It’s, like, a conspiracy.

Government and big business want to destroy our use of the sacred herb as we know it. Legalization is a scam. Sounds whacked, I know. But man, stay with me for, like, a minute before you dial out for pizza and check out what these uncool old suits are saying.

What does legalization actually mean? It means taking an unregulated–if illegal–activity that has developed a sophisticated supply chain reaching from producer to end-user, and bringing it under the ambit of the post-modern administrative state. Government regulation.

Regulation means, at minimum, taxation. The gains from erasing the risk premium associated with the criminal marijuana industry will be scooped up by Revenue Canada, and then some. Look at the tax rate on tobacco, alcohol or gasoline.

Once cannabis is just another state-regulated product–but with the combined historical and social baggage of alcohol and tobacco–government will insist on being wholesaler, distributor and (except in Alberta and maybe Quebec) retailer. Manufacturing will gravitate to big companies, those with the best government contacts and expertise at navigating federal regulation. These could well be the big tobacco companies themselves. Of course, they still won’t be allowed to sponsor major events, such as horse racing or snooker.

Legalization will destroy commercial freedom–especially that of small growers and dealers–and transform the marijuana industry into another sad Canadian example of over-taxation, over-regulation and oligopoly. The regulatory process will be debauched, soon serving mainly to crush competition. There are too many Canadian precedents to hope otherwise–airlines, broadcasting, grain, dairy and poultry, taxi cabs, liquor and, yes, tobacco.

Grow your own? Forget it. The Cannabis Marketing Board, a Crown agency stuffed with Liberal appointees and accountable to no one, will regulate every facet of cultivation, production, processing and marketing.

Large producers using factory farms and wage-earning employees will lobby for subsidies, then to eliminate small growers. Weirdos who defy the system will be busted, clapped in irons and have their property confiscated.

The mainstream news media will portray them as rednecks, extremists and–worse–as selfish men who refuse to accept the benefits of a socialized industry. This was the actual experience of prairie grain farmers who attempted to market the fruits of their labour without submitting to the Canadian Wheat Board’s price-fixing. Similarly, farmers who circumvented egg and chicken quotas have been treated like, well, like criminals.

Nor will the consumer escape the nanny state’s unsolicited attention. Reefer potency will be carefully researched by grant-wielding scientists and prescribed by a large, opaque government agency.

Filters will be encouraged, or mandatory. Your insurance agent will demand to know if you worship the herb, and if so, your premiums will shoot up. Health Canada will require warning labels on all packaging: “Warning: Cannabis triggers giggling, snacking and napping.”

Reports by tax-funded scientists will “prove” second-hand smoke harms your friends and loved ones.

The strangest thing of all will be that the ideological left, currently your advocate, will turn on you. The health police will demonize grower, dealer, user and product. The moment dope-smoking becomes legal, tax-funded advertising will begin urging you to quit.

The focus of policing will switch from possession and trafficking to intoxication. Friends will grab your car keys as you try to leave their party. Do-gooders will organize holiday-season campaigns analogous to today’s Operation Red Nose. After, say, three transgressions you’ll have to blow into a tube to start your car. Condescending ads will fill the airwaves depicting stoned drivers killing children, sometimes their own.

In keeping with this stigmatization, head shops will be government-run (except in Alberta) with unionized staff. A Czechoslovakia-style ordering system will be devised, using focus groups aimed at eliciting the most unpleasant possible shopping experience. You’ll check off your choices on a form–two packs of B.C. Arrow Lake Home Grown, Extra Mild, one roach clip, one water pipe, and so on. A pie-eyed provincial government worker in drab garb will take your order and disappear. “Water pipes are on back order, there was a safety recall,” she’ll grunt. “Oh. When you expect them in?” “No idea. Next.”

As product quality falls and taxes rise, enforcement will ratchet up without mercy. Just try buying some cheap, full-strength, unfiltered, just-picked non-Health Canada-tested weed in Amsterdam, Jamaica or Mexico and getting it past Canada Customs.

The AgCan sniffer bloodhound will be on you like you had a ripe salami strapped to your thigh. You’ll be treated with the same contempt as someone caught with unpasteurized cheese.

Freedom to toke? Forget it. Where do you expect it to be allowed? At work? In bars? In front of buildings? Have you been following what’s happened to tobacco smokers? No more indulgent city cops or RCMP officers cruising past benignly as you toke up behind the bar, in a leafy corner of the park or against the seawall at the beach. Now, you’ll have bylaw enforcement officers pouncing everywhere. Compared to them, the Horsemen are soft boys. Ticketed nearly to death, you’ll yearn for a mere criminal record. It’s back to the garage, bro’.

Under “criminalized” conditions, marijuana is a free–if crime-ridden–market. Anyone can join this industry without a university degree, licence or hearings requiring payments to lawyers, accountants or engineers. It’s innovative. Growers are constantly breeding sweeter variants and faster-growing plants. It’s competitive. As in the computer industry, but decidedly not as in the airline industry, consumer prices have fallen (or so we are told). It’s efficient. You can get it just about anywhere, 24-7. It has an extremely high rate of customer satisfaction.

You can do it in many places if you’re discrete. The tax rate is zero. It’s cool. The downside? It’s a crime.

Who wants to change this imperfect but highly workable system? Why, the Senate: Unelected, unaccountable and filled with pathologically naive Liberals who worship not the herb, but the state.

The big picture should be forming for you right about now. “Legal” marijuana? Buddy, what you been smokin’?

Calgary Herald

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