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?

  • HughJorgen

    That’s something I’ve been trying to impress upon people… look at what they’ve done to tobacco. They have dumbed it down to the point that there’s no pleasure in it. The tobacco is crap, because only grandfathered producers are allowed. Tobacco companies (even the Natives, who can’t keep up with demand) have to buy raw leaf from outside. This means they aren’t deveining the tobacco or removing stems. To buy them legally in a store , the tax is astronomical and ridiculous. It’s near $15 for a pack of smokes now.

    I know exactly what is in my cigarettes because I break them open to use tobacco for joints of oil and hashish-like preparations. It’s crap and it doesn’t matter what brand, legal or quasi-legal.

    There are ugly warnings that take up most of the packs (that we mock… I especially like the “valentines day” cigarettes with the cupped surgeon hands presenting a heart), no more calendars, it’s difficult to distinguish packaging, there are uncooperative retail clerks that make it difficult to choose a brand… I could go on. Soon, there will be no branding at all and these idiots won’t be able to tell one pack from the next.

    They will try to do the same thing with cannabis… this is why they want to maintain tight fisted control. At first the bud will probably be decent, then gradually it will be of lesser potency and quality as more profits are removed from the producers and transferred to ever increasing taxes.

    Legalization simply replaces criminal charges with ostracism too. You can’t drive (I will ALWAYS have serum levels of THC, even if I haven’t smoked yet), you can’t use it in your rental unit, employers will be drug testing and discriminating.