Vancouver City Council’s ban on medical cannabis edibles and other extracts is not about public health and safety. It’s about putting bakers and extraction crews out of business before they become too powerful. After a decade of the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) and underground BC farming, licensed producers (LPs) of medical cannabis faced competition when the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) failed to eradicate supply. The LPs don’t want competition within the growing industry and they especially can’t allow extraction crews to sell through dispensaries, since retail is the gateway to the market. That is why Vancouver City Council prefers the “dried marihuana” model of the federal government. All commercial sales on food or medicine must adhere to some government bureaucracy, but it is not unreasonable to prefer that cannabis stays exempt from this system. Especially when the bureaucracy is bloated, and outsourced to Americans.
For the most part, elected representatives, especially at the municipal level, leave the electorate wanting. When they outsource all bureaucratic duties to “professional” agencies based out of the United States, the result is the privatization of big government. Somewhere in that matrix, there is a concerted effort to ensure the future market for cannabis and cannabis-derivatives remains part of the legal (read: corporate-fascist) apparatus. Maybe the LPs are lobbying behind the scenes, or perhaps control is the name of the game and nobody needs to say a thing. Either way, the end result is the same: negation of the division of labour and specialization of skills in the free and fair market. The prohibitionist stance from Ottawa and Vancouver is clear: abstract appeals to “health and safety” and “the children” trump the middle-class of cannabis and cannabis-derivative producers.
It’s not just dried bud, shatter, oil, tinctures, juices, hemp seeds for food, topical creams for skin, renewable hemp paper, plastic, and textiles. Cannabis offers a variety of uses and the plant itself comes in a variety of forms. Many don’t realize that cannabis and hemp are the same thing. There is an avenue of specialization and division of labour in the cannabis industry. Given the opportunity to provide value for each other, cannabis could be the “staple resource” that creates new kinds of work and generates sustainable wealth for the middle class.
But what do I mean by that? A “staple resource” was an idea by Harold Innis, a Canadian economic historian. He suggested that the Canadian economy developed by exporting “staple resources” like fish, timber, and wheat for imports like manufactured goods. Although professor David McNally called this theory Marxian “commodity fetishism,” the idea is that BC Bud could be a staple resource that generates new kinds of work. Already we’re witnessing the popularity of extraction crews like the Beard Brothers, and before Vancouver’s ban, virtually every dispensary was selling edible products.
Consider: To make their quality product, the Beard Bros. will buy pounds and pounds of cannabis from BC farmers. They refine it (or should I say, bake it) into that quality orange glow, and then it gets sold to dispensaries for wholesale prices, with dispensaries selling it to patients in smaller quantities. At each step there is wealth created through trade, as well as many inputs that require trading with producers who aren’t directly involved in cannabis. They just provide the capital goods necessary to produce extractions like oil and shatter. Furthermore, in a truly free and fair market there are no “profits” in the Marxian sense of the term. Profits represent arbitrage opportunities and in a competitive market that never lasts. What Marx and other leftist historians and economists have always misconstrued as exploitation of workers by capitalists is actually a reward for relieving discordance in the distribution of goods and services. The difference between the capitalist and the worker is that the latter gets paid upfront while making the good or providing the service, while the capitalist has to wait until the good or service can be sold. Only then does he make “profit” from the return on his investment of capital goods, paying labour, and taking the risk that consumers may reject his business.
This is the process by which wealth and jobs are created. Instead of facilitating entrepreneurism by lowering taxes, reducing bureaucratic red tape, and abolishing licensing requirements, politicians are selling out the cannabis market to a crony-capitalist cartel. What else is new? Corporate-fascist democracies aren’t interested in the liberation of this plant. These systems like to have secure cartels protected from things like free-market competition and consumer sovereignty. It’s like that in virtually every other billion-dollar industry and cannabis will be no different unless we put a stop to it. But ending prohibition means respecting private property rights, not voting for Justin Trudeau or the NDP. If we continue to neglect free and fair markets, prohibition will continue in one form or another indefinitely.