I’m Not for Legalization, I’m Against Prohibition

Legalizing cannabis is easy, just take it out of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, treat like a non-taxed, basic good, and then allow individuals and their respected communities to figure out the rest. All the “what about x” arguments can be dismissed on the grounds that personal liberty and free markets are not only morally and logically superior to monopoly and taxation, but have always outperformed government central plans economically.

Nearly 100 years after Ludwig von Mises published “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth,” there has still yet to be a solid rebuttal to the belief that government planners have all the tacit knowledge to plan and organize correctly. This knowledge is by its very nature decentralized among millions of individuals and only revealed through market pricing. No matter how elegant the design, or effective the plan is made out to be, government planners will never match the “best practice” of free and fair markets.

It’s crucial to reject any and all government plans for a post-legalization environment. Once the plant is rightfully removed from the CDSA (or better yet, the entire Act is scrapped), then all governments have to do are their basic functions: Enforce private property rights and ensure law and order. Regulating cannabis, like the other regulations in the economy, will provide a mechanism for dishonest entrepreneurs to influence, control, and write the rules.

Government regulations are often fixed and unchanging, unwilling and unable, to adapt to prevailing market conditions. Take the CRTC for example: they think they can control Canadian content on the Internet. It’s almost laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. In contrast, market-based solutions change according to consumer demand because people vote with their money. Consider the literary industry: there is a market for literature as well as unadulterated smut. If we ordered the publishing industry to resemble the democratic process, we would have to vote for smut or literature every four years. More often than not, I imagine smut would win out and the minority literature crowd would be sitting around waiting another four years for their chance at getting their favourite books published.

Of course, we don’t treat books that way. Law and order is a bit more complicated, so goes the argument, so it’s not a matter of just “voting with your money,” despite how much more rational that approach is. And considering, absent taxation, the only way to acquire wealth is to provide your fellow man with a good or service on a voluntary basis. There’s simply no rationale for hating the rich. If we vote with our money, and rich people have more money, that’s incentive for you to become rich. There is no moral justification for stealing from people who have earned their wealth honestly based on your false sense of victimization. It should be clear by now that the Marxian notions of class, exploitation and surplus value are dangerously flawed. So when people talk about legalizing cannabis so governments can “tax and regulate” it, I cringe with fear. This plant is our gateway to liberty, but some people are so eager to end prohibition that they’re willing to forgo any radicalism in hopes of looking good in the public eye.

If your sole political goal is to have a legal environment where cannabis is treated like alcohol, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you recognize that legalization won’t end prohibition for certain entrepreneurs and consumers; that it will give a politically-connected cartel the exclusive rights to produce and sell; that it will give governments more tax-revenue so they can continually bomb the Middle East as well as keeping that “social safety net” Ponzi scheme from enduring its inevitable collapse; that it will prevent the free market from developing cannabis derivatives that can replace fossil fuels and environmentally-damaging plastics. If you’re willing to forgo all these major issues and how they’re directly related to ending cannabis prohibition, then by all means vote Liberal, vote NDP, support municipal regulations. But remember: alcohol was re-legalized nearly a century ago and the industry still suffers from prohibition. Many capitalists and bureaucrats have used these probationary controls to further their own agenda.

It’s naive to think the billion-dollar cannabis industry will somehow be exempt from this crony-capitalist system. If all you want to do is smoke cannabis legally, regardless of who grows it or the amount of tax you pay on top of it, then ignore this post. But if you recognize that Canada’s problems don’t begin and end with Stephen Harper’s leadership, that there are systematic issues in how we’re organizing society, then come join us in using cannabis as our gateway to liberty.