Cam Battley’s Class Struggle

Dispensaries raided by police, BC Bud farmers deemed criminal, Health Canada threatening laboratories daring to test cannabis for willing consumers, all the while anyone involved with cannabis who isn’t a Harper-era licensed producer is considered violent, gang-related, organized crime.

But this isn’t a class issue, Cam Battley reminds us.

Senior vice president of Aurora and Chair of Cannabis Canada (the licensed producer lobby group advocating government violence against craft cannabis), Cam gave an interview with CBC’s Out in the Open. 

“What we’re doing is simply playing by the rules,” Cam said, “When people suggest that this is a class issue, they’re really saying they can’t compete according to the rules.”

But, “simply playing by the rules” isn’t as black and white as Cam makes it out to be.

If the problem is “class,” it’s not in a Marxian sense of rich versus poor, or corporations versus small businesses.

Before Marx, class theory focused on those who made a living by voluntary means (the market) and those who used force (the state).

I don’t expect Cam Battley is aware of this distinction. After all, we live in a society where it’s assumed “we are the government.”

I think Cam honestly believes his own BS when he tells CBC, “When you follow the rules, it’s a little hard to see yourself as hypocritical.”

But what are these rules?

For nearly a century cannabis has been prohibited by the federal government. Like everything the government does, this has been a bone-headed policy that’s destroyed the lives of millions.

Since merely passing legislation doesn’t overturn market conditions, by the dawn of the 21st century, it was evident Canadians were going to grow, sell and consume cannabis regardless of what the law said.

By the time Justin Trudeau’s Liberals came to power in 2015, promising legalization, two divergent markets had formed.

One was the corporate LP-cartel that the previous Conservative government had established in 2012. They trade on the stock market. They grow cannabis in sterile conditions with a security apparatus mandated by a government that viewed cannabis as “infinitely worse than tobacco.”

The second was the underground market that had been serving Canadians cannabis for decades. They self-regulate, compete with one another, and consumers demonstrate their preference through voluntary exchange.

The people behind this “unregulated” market, colloquially known as “BC Bud,” are the original homesteaders of Canadian cannabis.

These are the people who defined BC Bud. These are the people who risked criminal records and prison to bring cannabis to Canadians.

These are the people who paved the way for legalization.

They risked everything and are not about to let Ottawa-insiders squeeze them out because of fallacious arguments about proper testing or protecting the children.

Cam said, “When people suggest that this is a class issue, they’re really saying they can’t compete according to the rules.”

That’s correct. The rules are skewed to favour large corporate producers and Bay Street firms.

It’s a class issue in the sense that one group is praised and protected by the Liberal government, while the other is falsely equated to violent, gang-related crime.