Crony-Capitalism in Manitoba

If you search for, “crony-capitalism” you’ll get a pretty straightforward definition: “an economic system characterized by close, mutually advantageous relationships between business leaders and government officials.”

Wikipedia goes further to describe it as, “an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risks they take, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. This is done using state power to crush genuine competition in handing out permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention… Money is then made not merely by making a profit in the market, but through profiteering by “rent seeking” using this monopoly or oligopoly.”

This explains Canada’s “legal” cannabis industry to a tee.

But, if you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that’s what legal isn’t always lawful. Might doesn’t always make right. There are legislative laws created by government, and there are natural laws intrinsic to our humanity.

Now, all this would be merely annoying if it wasn’t for the fact that Canada already has a vibrant cannabis industry.

In fact, that was the point of legalization. Ending prohibition wasn’t supposed to be just for consumers. The actual producers of cannabis (peaceful consumers themselves) were to be free to emerge from the underground and participate in Canada’s legal, regulated regime instead of getting lumped in beside biker gangs and street criminals.

But so it goes in a country where we can’t even have free and fair access to the internet thanks to the telecom oligopoly.

So it comes as little surprise that the Manitoba government has made a deal with licensed producer Delta 9 to provide the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries bureaucracy with 2.3-million grams of cannabis for the next five years.

At least the cannabis itself will be sold by private retailers. But, alas, using the government as the middleman is wasteful and inefficient. If the large LPs are going to supply Canadians with legal cannabis, they might as well open their own retail stores.

But, in the province that is attempting to ban home growing, none of this should come as a shock.

The Manitoba government has also made deals with National Access Canada, a medical cannabis clinic hoping to move into the recreational market. They’ve also made deals with Tokyo Smoke and an unnamed Canadian corporation consisting of two First Nations group and an American dispensary chain.

“This eliminates the need for immediate public capital investment in storefronts,” said Manitoba trade minister Blaine Pedersen.

And he’s technically right.

But why not go further and eliminate the need to source through the Liquor and Lotteries bureaucracy?

These are all “growing pains” we’re told. That, come October 17th no one, including the large LPs, will be happy about legalization. But, as time moves on, the rules will liberalize and soon we’ll have a free and fair mar—

Let me stop you there.

Liberalization of alcohol has moved at a snail’s pace. There are no private retailers in many parts of the country. Craft producers are under heavy regulations that make it hard to compete with larger multinationals. “Sin” taxes are still present and ultimately unnecessary and quite condescending.

Meanwhile, the rules surrounding tobacco have only gotten more strict.

So I’m wary of this promise that, somewhere, down the line, in some hypothetical future, cannabis will go from crony-capitalist top-down government control to a blossoming free and fair market.

Exactly where is the justification for such a belief?