The B.C. government plans to throw $2.3 million taxpayer dollars at the province’s Indigenous cannabis industry. The announcement comes a few days after a First Nations group called for Cannabis Act reforms.

Concerning the Indigenous cannabis industry, while the B.C. government pays lip service to Indigenous sovereignty, their actions have been all over the map.

On the one hand, you’ve got legal retailers suing the government over lack of enforcement on First Nation reserves. And on the other hand, you’ve got the “Community Safety Unit” raiding peaceful Indigenous establishments.

The B.C. government has given itself more power to go after “illicit” online retailers. It has also strengthened the province’s civil forfeiture laws to target cannabis farmers specifically.

But as politicians are always prepared to do what sounds right over what works – the B.C. government is throwing $2.3 million at the Indigenous cannabis industry.

B.C. Throws Money at Indigenous Cannabis Industry

B.C. Throws Money at Indigenous Cannabis Industry

This past weekend, the B.C. government announced they would allocate $2.3 million to the B.C. Indigenous Cannabis Business Fund (ICBF). ICBF aims to increase Indigenous participation in B.C.’s cannabis industry.

But wait. Isn’t “public health” always up in arms about the alleged harms of cannabis?

The industry is subject to sin taxes and prohibition-era rules and regulations. Public health doesn’t celebrate it as the therapeutic, nontoxic medicinal flower it is.

So why would the B.C. government encourage marginalized and vulnerable populations to enter the drug industry? Why would they use taxpayer dollars to accomplish this?

Why the disconnect? Simple: like prohibition, Canadian legalization is rooted in racism.

Is the B.C. Government Racist? 

B.C. Indigenous Cannabis

The racism in prohibition is blatant: despite similar rates of use among all populations, police charge minorities with cannabis possession and trafficking at a far higher rate than “white” or fair-skinned people.

Obviously, the solution is to end prohibition and defund the police. Cannabis belongs in a free and fair market, as do policing services.

But what about the racism in legalization? If your skin is white and your background is European, getting too involved with cannabis constitutes a “disorder” or an “addiction.”

If you smoke weed every day, the way people drink coffee every morning, then public health considers this a symptom of some larger mental health issue.

But that’s if you’re in the majority European-descent ethnic group. If you’re Indigenous, there is no talk about “cannabis use disorder.” When speaking of the Indigenous cannabis industry, politicians and bureaucrats start talking about economic prosperity or business opportunities.

Why? Ethnic discrimination. Also called racism.

If you’re from Europe, the prevailing Judeo-Christian worldview tends to have a negative view of drug use. Despite the secular nature of modern Western governments, this ethos still dominates Canada’s cultural and ethical background (just look at how the state deals with gambling, sex work, or alcohol).

But if you’re Indigenous, then it’s assumed your spiritual background permits cannabis as a holy sacrament. A sort of “peace pipe” that is a fundamental part of your culture.

Like, I said: racism.

Your genetic code doesn’t determine your identity. Indigenous people can wear suits, work in a corporate office, eat avocado toast, and listen to 1970s classic rock.

Just as a “white” person can escape the rat race and join an intentional community that adheres to principles similar to many Indigenous cultures.

We’re free, independent, autonomous persons. Identifying ourselves (and others) as members of an ethnic group, first and foremost, rather than individuals, has been a regular occurrence throughout history.

It has never worked out well. 

Details of the Funding

details of the funding

The B.C. government’s allocation of $2.3 million to the Indigenous Cannabis Business Fund (ICBF) is a one-time deal. At least for now.

According to the province, the money will go toward helping First Nations with business plans and advisory services and help cover the costs of licensing and permits. The ICBF will also provide capital to support launches and expansions of Indigenous-owned cannabis businesses.

New Relationship Trust will administer the ICBF. In a statement, the chief executive officer said, “The additional funding means unlocking more opportunities for First Nations seeking to advance their own path toward economic development in the regulated cannabis industry.”

Of course, forging their “own” path toward economic development shouldn’t involve an additional $2.3 million bailout from taxpayers. (The ICBF already received $7.5 million a few years ago).

The B.C. government could be far more effective in eliminating the required licenses and permits that drive up business costs. Reform would benefit non-Indigenous cannabis entrepreneurs as well, and it costs nothing.

Before legalization, when Vancouver had a wild-west of “illegal” dispensaries, a few groups stepped up to provide order. The idea was that they’d be private accreditation agencies.

You might have several options to buy weed. But one of the stores would have a seal of approval from an accreditation agency you know and trust. This shifts the costs of regulation from taxpayers to the business and its consumers.

It also means consumers have to make more discriminating choices—no more blind faith in the power of government bureaucracy.

We know monopolies don’t work. Only ideologues question the efficiency of markets. So why do we permit governments to monopolize regulatory services?

What do Indigenous Groups Think?

B.C. Indigenous Cannabis

What do Indigenous groups think about the B.C. government’s plan to throw $2.3 million at the Indigenous cannabis industry?

“I commend the Province for enhancing its support of First Nations cannabis-related economic development through the ICBF,” said regional chief Terry Teegee, BC Assembly of First Nations.

Terry sees it as another example of how the B.C. government adheres to the “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” or UNDRIP.

But like most things from the United Nations, the devil is in the details.

For example, UNDRIP says Indigenous populations have a right to “self-determination” without clarifying what this means.

Suppose a First Nations reserve in Canada overwhelmingly supports a local secession movement. Would the federal government and First Nation groups support them? Or would their self-determination be considered an illegal act?

The UNDRIP is too ambiguous to be helpful. Either self-determination overrules national law and sovereignty (or, at the very least, competes with it on a level playing field), or, like the United Nations itself, the UNDRIP is useless.

A mere virtue signal to give Indigenous people a sense of progress. This is true even in Canada, where the Trudeau government wrote the UNDRIP into law.

Do you really think Justin believes Indigenous people have an “inherent right to self-determination, including the right of self-government”? 

How Cannabis Works in B.C.

How Cannabis Works in B.C.

Here’s the reality: the B.C. government creates a complex regulatory system for retail, requiring capital, permits, licenses, and insider knowledge to navigate this bureaucratic nonsense.

It then raids peaceful Indigenous-owned dispensaries that have chosen not to participate in the government’s crony-capitalist system.

The B.C. government then offers other people’s money to “support” the cannabis industry they’ve made unnecessarily convoluted and expensive.

It’s like a criminal who breaks into your house, claims it’s his, then breaks your legs but pays your medical bills with money he found in your bedroom.

You don’t have to be of a particular ethnicity to see the problem.