As Canadian as Maple Syrup

The fight for a free-and-fair cannabis market is an up-hill battle.

From the big banks, to the few telecommunication companies, to oil companies and uranium producers, Canada is cartel country.

Even something as Canadian as maple syrup is dominated by a top few Quebecois producers.

This doesn’t happen when entry into the market is free and open for all. It happens when people demand governments regulate industries, and lo and behold, the regulated industries make sure they have a hand in writing the rules.

It’s not some nefarious conspiracy, it’s called “rent-seeking” or regulatory capture.

Since the government’s regulatory “service” never faces bankruptcy and always get funding no matter how poor of a job it does, government regulation is akin to putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

In contrast, subjecting these agencies to the whims of the free market means putting consumers back in charge of regulatory compliance.

Considering the unfounded fears behind “unfettered capitalism” vis-à-vis government coercion (and why this is), is an entirely different issue, especially considering that capitalism has raised the living standards of everyone beyond anything imagined by the richest of the rich of the 12th century (while states are responsible for 262 million deaths in the 20th century alone), the prospect of a free and fair regulatory market doesn’t seem in the works anytime soon.

Which is a shame because, if not even maple syrup is free, what hope does cannabis have?

In Quebec, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers have a supply management monopoly that enforces quotes and sales, which has led to a black market in maple syrup production.

Supply management is predicated on the idea that producers should get a “fair” price for their product, but in reality, administrative tribunals govern the industry, protecting cartels, staging phoney syrup deals to entrap bootleggers, and demanding utility bills and bank statements from entrepreneurs who are suspected of falling outside the regulatory scheme.

Hans Mercier, who practices law in Saint-Georges, Quebec, told the National Post, “Because it is a system that is hyper-regulated, hyper-controlled, with no competition, the authorities can do more or less what they want.”

He added, “It is a legal cartel that was put in place. It’s a marketing board, but it has become much more. With the sales agency they are, at the same time, the producers, the sellers, the buyers. It’s a total control of the market, from A to Z.”

Fortunately, as cannabis legalization rolls out, we have an opportunity to make our voices heard. We can stop the cannabis cartel in its tracks, before they bankrupt the small-scale competitors via government bureaucracy. This is what Cannabis Growers of Canada is doing and you can help be part of the change.

Or we can sit back, trust the government to do that right thing (good luck with that), and hopefully the end result won’t be bureaucrats and union thugs protecting their interests while claiming to do a superior job than free enterprise could.

You’d think 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we would have learned some economic lessons. But I suppose those who forget history really are doomed to repeat it.