These newcomers are both protected and punished by the state apparatus. On one hand, regulatory requirements prevent and disincentive a robust cannabis market, on the other hand, regulatory requirements protect a few top LPs from competition.
While some analysts may focus on one or a few groups in the short run, the lesson is in the long-term interests of everyone. The LPs profit at the expense of literally everyone else in Canada.
That is also the lesson with Ontario’s plan for legalization.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is a government-monopoly retail outlet that has expressed interest in handling legal cannabis sales.
While the LCBO takes orders from the government, Warren Thomas, president of the labour union representing the LCBO, has spoken up, believing the liquor store to be the most equipped.
Actually, the LCBO would be reinventing the wheel since the only thing cannabis and alcohol have in common is that they affect the brain. As for every other step — from seed, to farm, to trimmers, to dispensary owners and bud-tenders — the two goods couldn’t be more different.
But Thomas tells us it’s a social responsibility thing — “they do age checks, they do refusals if somebody’s intoxicated.” Like the LPs, the LCBO has a “very secure” warehouse and distribution system.
These are the reasons legalization czar Bill Blair has cited as well.
When it comes to alcohol, Blair said: “You’re going to come up against a government employee who’s got regulations to enforce and is going to ask for identification and if a person’s underage, they’re not going to be able to buy that.”
Adding, “it is far easier for a kid, an underaged youth, to acquire marijuana that it is to acquire alcohol.”
If anecdotal evidence has anything to say, or perhaps the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, “Most students found alcohol easy to obtain, with the most common access being from parents’ supplies or older friends.”
When it comes to society, private establishments are capable of doing age checks, and refusing intoxicated customers. They have an incentive to enforce these community values since a private owner is personally invested in the capital stock of the operation.
Blair and Thomas imagine LCBO employees will act perfectly and rationally because they are well-paid government employees with “regulations to enforce.”
If that’s true, then it comes at a high expense for Ontario taxpayers and alcohol producers and consumers.
But does it really matter where or how cannabis is distributed, so long as its price undercuts violent gang markets?
And since prices in a free market system actually mean something when it comes to communicating demand and available supplies, putting a government-monopoly retailer in charge is one of the most destructive things one can do.