In 1998, the Toronto Compassion Centre provided cannabis to patients because the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) offered ineffective access.
The centre asked for recognition from the Canadian government, culminating in a 2003 civil case, Hitzig v Canada. The plaintiff was a former cop and one of the first legal patients to get licensed, before the MMAR.
The MMAR itself was a bureaucratic reaction to a constitutional right.
Later, the Harper Conservatives, not having much respect for positive rights, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, decided into interfere with negative rights as well, implementing a new cannabis regime.
The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations mimicked other large sectors of the Canadian economy. Corporate oligarchies, protected from middle-class competition by government regulations, would control the production, sales and distribution of cannabis.
Actually, to be exact, Canada Post would handle the legal trafficking.
Patients would receive their cannabis by mail as per public health and safety. But a question remained: would Canada Post send the medicine to a community mailbox or door-to-door?
In 2014, Harper’s government demanded Canada Post phase out door-to-door service in urban areas, obviously putting teens and children at risk since they would wait by the community mail-boxes for cannabis packages to arrive.
Since Canada Post is a federal crown corporation, Ottawa more-or-less controls what happen’s with the postal monopoly. But not always, as in the example of Justin Trudeau’s victory last October, where Canada Post announced they would put the door-to-door phase out “on hold in an orderly fashion” until Justin gets around to that promise too.
Wouldn’t it be great if Canada’s cannabis community could phase out Harper’s MMPR “in an orderly fashion” without waiting for the federal government to act?
Fortunately, the unruly licensed producers haven’t acted too drastically, but that hasn’t stopped Cam Battley of Bedrocan Canada from suggesting bad ideas.
Since the LPs already use Canada Post to mail what passes for medicine, Battley suggested the rules change so non-medical consumers can purchase from them.
After all, the LPs have stockpiled cannabis while the RCMP have raided dispensaries. Patients are upset with the MMPR for a variety of reasons, the LPs may find a better response in a recreational market, especially when the big unions hook-up with the liquor monopolies.
For now, the LPs blame their competition, dispensaries and compassion clubs, some of which date to the 1990s.
The Harper government promised them thousands of patients and protected profits by establishing an oligopoly. All they got was overregulation and a slow bureaucratic mess.
Not to mention the thousands of patients who would rather grow the plant in their homes, instead of relying on a Canada Post mail-order package.
In places like Vancouver, where the relatively free-and-fair market has spoken, consumers and patients are going to the retail-store fronts, not Harper’s licensed producers and not through Canada Post.
Most of the supply coming into dispensaries or compassion clubs is kept secret for a reason, and it’s true, there are no federal bureaucrats inspecting cannabis farmers and gardeners that aren’t part of the MMPR.
But that’s not to say these people are unregulated, and their secrecy emerged in a culture of prohibition. Consumers regulate entrepreneurial behaviour by patronizing competitors. A seller of mouldy cannabis doesn’t stay in business for long. The more transparent these people can be, the better it is for all Canadians.
There could even be a market for cannabis regulators, instead of relying on the federal government, patients could patronize a third-party business trusted to label quality, clean cannabis by supervising farmers and dispensaries.
The fact is compassion clubs, centres, dispensaries, co-opts, or whatever you want to call them, predate even the old MMAR, let alone these unconstitutional licensed producers.
Legalization should be about correcting these mistakes, not sending cannabis through Canada Post.