A provincial auditors’ report on B.C. cannabis says the provincial branch responsible for legal cannabis is understaffed and lacks proper training.
The auditors’ report on B.C. cannabis said, “due to a lack of assessment, monitoring, and specialized capacity, the branch is unable to confirm that legal requirements are upheld or quantify the risks on an industry level.”
Enforcement takes a “reactive approach” based on complaints.
The B.C. government rewarded the Liquor Distribution Branch with legal cannabis sales in 2018. They told British Columbians that only “licensed” professionals could check I.D.s and inform consumers.
Now we see that was a lie.
Auditors’ Report on B.C. Cannabis: Recommendations
They include identifying key cannabis risks by improving monitoring procedures, especially in “high-risk” areas with plenty of “illicit” sales and “illicit” online deliveries.
Develop a systematic risk-based approach to these “high risk” areas. This includes “strategic planning, program design and execution.”
Hire more bureaucrats and address I.T. issues to “help improve staff retention and job satisfaction.”
The auditors’ report on B.C. cannabis said there were inconsistencies with how staff conduct inspections and other vital decisions. The report recommends additional guidance and training to “help improve consistency.”
They recommend direct monitoring of “licensee understanding of education materials,” and implementing a “Minors as Agents Program.”
Essentially, the auditors’ report on B.C. cannabis is calling for more enforcement.
Minors As Agents?
The auditors’ report on B.C. cannabis is what you’d expect from government bureaucracy.
Criticisms that have solutions in spending more money, training more staff, and disregarding the financial costs to the private businesses they’re apparently serving.
Nowhere is this more obvious than the “Minors as Agents” or MAPs.
B.C. uses MAP in the liquor industry. This involves hiring youthful-looking adults to pose as teenagers. They then try and get a liquor store to sell them booze.
If this sounds like a gigantic waste of taxpayer money, then join the club.
The auditors’ report on B.C. cannabis suggests the provincial government expand MAPs to the cannabis industry.
We suggest the B.C. government get out of the regulation business. Especially cannabis regulation.
Before these bloated and wasteful bureaucracies, customary law and traditions played a significant role in regulating behaviours.
Alcohol consumption, for example, used to be regulated by cultural norms and social stigma. In the Anglo-American tradition, restricted alcohol sales existed, especially for minors. But these rules came from local authorities and required community involvement and enforcement.
Today, we outsource our complex social problems to the blunt force of government and wonder why these incompetent institutions haven’t solved the problems.
Auditors’ Report on B.C. Cannabis: What It Should Say
Lao Tzu once said, “The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”
That’s certainly true in the cannabis industry. People who once threw you in a cage for possessing it now profit from a legal regime. They write the rules.
But we already have the laws on the books to regulate cannabis successfully. Tort and criminal law provide security, while contract, property, and commercial law facilitate cooperation and exchange. Politics doesn’t need to enter the picture.
Consider how cannabis companies would ensure their products are safe and accurately labelled to avoid product liability claims. Society doesn’t need new cannabis-centric regulations. For this, we have tort law.
We certainly don’t need a “MAP” program. The auditors’ report on B.C. Cannabis is wrong.
Suppose a cannabis store in your community sold children potent edibles just for kicks. Suppose there were no modern government regulations, and we instead relied on Anglo-American common law.
Consider how tort law could help.
You could argue the cannabis store owes a duty of care to the community it finds itself in. Then you could demonstrate that the cannabis store breached its duty of care by serving potent edibles to minors.
Lawyers (or paralegals) would establish a causal connection between the store’s actions (serving minors) and any harm caused as a result (hospital stays, for example).
In a court of law, you’d prove that the community suffered actual damages (or harms) due to the store’s actions.
This is a basic example, but it shows that we worked out the mechanisms for resolving disputes hundreds of years ago. Common law originates from actual cases and settlements that arose and evolved from actual disputes.
In the Western legal tradition, laws were procedural. Politicians didn’t preemptively create new rules and then empower expensive bureaucracies to enforce them.
The auditors’ report on B.C. cannabis is just more self-serving government B.S. When all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.