Feds need to leave unlicensed cannabis market alone

If we’ve learned anything from economics and history, it’s that governments can’t prohibit things people want to buy.

It didn’t work on a mass scale in the Soviet Union or China and it doesn’t work here, especially when applied to the cannabis sector.

We wouldn’t say the underground smugglers of the former USSR were evil, despite being classified as a criminal. The communist states of the 20th century may have defined black markets as criminal, but categorically the smugglers were engaging in ethical acts of disobedience.

It was the state that was in the wrong.

The same can be said when cannabis entrepreneurs take the herb and its derivatives off the street and put them into private retail establishments where IDs are checked and consumers have more choice.

That’s free market legalization, that’s the liberalization of the plant.

Isn’t Justin Trudeau supposed to be a Liberal?

Apparently not, since he repeats the same mantra over and over again. Legalization is going to take cannabis out of the hands “children” and “organized crime.” The guy should learn some new soundbites.

The media tends to either sit on the fence with some good investigations into small-time “illegal growers” with a bonus of a favourable editorial or two. But there’s a lot of bad propaganda as well.

And if the media barely questions the narrative, then we can forget the police community coming around to the idea of freedom. They are reluctantly going ahead with Justin’s regulatory restriction, forget free markets.

When it comes to restricting cannabis, the Liberal government has replaced Harper’s “law and order” mentality with an insidious, tyrannical, nanny-state “mental health” approach.

But whether Harper or Trudeau, the end result is the same.

Police raid dispensaries, people get criminal records for having plants, large licensed producers lobby Ottawa insiders while putting down “Donald Trump-style” activism.

All of which amounts to prohibition for us and legalization for them. Not exactly what many Liberal voters had in mind last October.

Hence why I didn’t vote. With Harper out, did cannabis connoisseurs really expect the violence against them to cease? Why place your trust in the institution that prohibited cannabis to begin with?

But what’s done is done. Now the question is: What can we do to ensure the public stays on our side?

With Harper, it was obvious who the aggressor was. Under the Justin Trudeau brand, regulation and restriction of cannabis may win over the moderates, putting hardcore activists in a corner.

We become the bad guys. We become the drug-pushers flaunting federal rules to turn a profit. And since most Canadians are already conditioned to hate profits and capitalism, most of the legwork is already done.

This must be rejected. We must push back against a narrative painting us as criminals, as former street-pushers hellbent on profiting from legalization without regard for the safety and well-being of others.

Profits demonstrate value, market prices indicate the most efficient use of resources. Government bureaucracy cannot be checked by this economic calculation.

The unlicensed cannabis industry is no different from the underground markets in former communist countries.

There is nothing wrong with consensual acts of capitalism, whether it’s cannabis, booze, dairy products or poultry.

But this is precisely the message many Canadians have ceased to accept, or even acknowledge.

Even among cannabis connoisseurs, often next to the hashtags #FreeandFair is the nonsensical #PeopleBeforeProfits.

Failure to reject socialism will erode any remnants of our free, underground cannabis market. Federal intervention should be opposed lock, stock and barrel.