Cannabis & Videotex

Since governments have long held monopolies over telecommunications, the industry has advanced slowly and haphazardly. The phone was fairly basic and worked without electricity.

The fax machine was neat and helped facilitate commerce, and television was of course revolutionary, but Videotex was the wave of the future. 

Like television, there was a video monitor, but there was also a keyboard. Like the telephone, the machine used a modem so it could transmit data in both directions.

Videotex was the precursor to the Internet and personal computing.

However, the technology never really took off.

But how is this possible? Videotex provided many services we wouldn’t encounter again until the advent of the Internet.

Videotex was a central plan from government planners and the businessmen and women of  telecommunications oligopolies. It was ready for distribution in 1983.

The Internet, on the other hand, was decentralized and spontaneous. It wouldn’t mature until 1996, and even now, there are problems.

For decades, communications technology was considered a “natural monopoly,” and, so, developers of videotex naturally assumed control by a government monopoly.

This is the way things had been with phone lines and regulation of the electromagnetic spectrum.

It was assumed without question that the state or a cabal of large producers would be the appropriate providers of interactive media.

But by the late 90s, computers and the Internet were proven superior, and unlike videotex, they relied on mutual cooperation without a central planner.

The various hardware and software components that keep the Internet lights on are designed, manufactured, and supported by thousands of different private companies.

Every online task, no matter how minute, is dependent on the division of labour, that is, the contributions of hundreds of companies acting, seemingly independently, but together in a nexus of technological communications.

The same can be said for the cannabis industry.

However, instead of allowing for the free and fair market that saw the private and decentralized Internet overcome the centralized videotex, the government of Canada is taking action against the free market cannabis community.

Dispensary raids in the Prairies and in Ontario, overregulation, fines and injunctions in Vancouver and other jurisdictions, with prohibitionists like Bill Blair and Anne McLellan in charge of legalization at the federal level.

The proposals coming from the government are reminiscent of videotex and not the free Internet. They talk about large licensed producers and restricted sales through government monopoly and private cartels.

What’s ignored is the decentralized community of activists, farmers, vendors, extraction crews, glass-blowers and other third-party producers.

People grow and sell cannabis peacefully, they are knowledgeable, contribute to the local economy, and are subject to supply and demand and competition.

Without government restrictions, the patient as the consumer is in charge, demanding and receiving the highest quality medicine.

Ottawa’s prohibitionist approach to cannabis mirrors its approach to the telecommunications industry.

Keep it large, corporate, protected from competition, and fight to maintain the status quo against any threatening innovation.

Hence, concerted effort to undermine free competition in service providers, as well as the deliberate undermining of BC Bud, because “the children” unfounded fears of “anarchy” overrule property rights and economic, technological, medical, and environmental progress.