As Canada’s largest trade association for cannabis businesses, the Cannabis Growers of Canada (CGC) are concerned that the Trudeau government continues to miss the mark on the path to legalization, and that very little consultation is being done with the cannabis business community.

While we are pleased to see the advisory panel finally appointed, we are concerned that not one member of the panel has any experience with cannabis from an agricultural or business perspective. The continuing prohibitionist-minded approach the government is taking may make for tried and tested political rhetoric, but it risks destroying tens of thousands of existing jobs across Canada.

Creating a narrow monopoly that favours well-connected lobbyists and agribusinesses may be profitable for politicians, but it ignores the reality that any such monopoly must come at the expense of the existing cannabis economy, and any future small business entrepreneurship. Unlike Colorado and Oregon, where tens of thousands of jobs have been created, the Trudeau government is signalling their intent to create another drab government monopoly.

CGC also objects to the government’s assertion that cannabis can only be “legally purchased” through the Licensed Producer program, and that no other form of production or distribution is acceptable in the interim.

The Medical Marihuana Production Regulations that the government suggests are the only source of legitimate medical cannabis are, in fact, currently suspended by order of a federal court judge ruling in the Allard decision. The government has yet to meet the court’s requirement that the MMPR be amended in favour of patients who demanded more access and control over their medical cannabis. CGC suggests that rather than demanding patients use a flawed MMPR system, the Trudeau government should instead concentrate on making the changes they are legally required to make to that system.

In fact, the government’s assertion not only flies in the face of the federal court’s Allard decision; it also confirms that the Trudeau government fully endorses and supports the failed Harper-era MMPR program. Despite the fact that the MMPR program was designed by the Harper government to restrict medical cannabis access to the absolute minimum level the courts demanded, the Trudeau government has elected to double down on this failed system at the expense of medical cannabis patients.

Every day, tens of thousands of medical cannabis patients across Canada use CGC members to access strains and types of cannabis not found in the LP system. The fact that the federal courts continue to confirm their right to do so speaks for itself, no matter what falsehoods the government may assert.

The Trudeau government has two choices: it can continue pursuing a course of needlessly destroying jobs that could be harnessed for legitimate economic growth, all in the interests of defending a Harper-era corporate monopoly specifically designed to repress medical cannabis access. Or, it can follow the lead of states like Colorado and Oregon, and embrace a craft cannabis economy that creates jobs and opportunities for everyday Canadians.

CGC hopes that the Trudeau government sees reason and adds economic and agricultural experts to their advisory panel, in the interests of a truly fact and evidenced based policy dialogue.