Licensed Producers Sucking the Life From Cannabis Industry

One doesn’t have to be a patient to recognize cannabis farmers, extraction crews, dispensary and compassion club owners as David against the Goliath that is the federal government.

The plans proposed by the federal parties more or less satisfy social sensibilities of many, but they don’t address economic roots like entrepreneurship. It’s clear where Harper stands, and the NDP will only make things worse by creating the wrong incentives with decriminalization. And, despite Justin Trudeau’s support for cannabis, he ignores the supply question while the chief financial officer of the Liberal Party sits on the board of directors of a couple of Harper’s Licensed Producers (LPs).

Now that the hard-work of activists have changed social norms imposed by prohibition by actually producing and selling cannabis in a nonviolent, non-gang related way, the state has stepped in.

These LPs are privately-owned and are chartered and regulated by Health Canada. The LPs have a self-interest in ensuring that the legal supply of cannabis remains produced by them as it’s a matter of wanting to profit and being unable to do so when your competition can reach the market faster and without the same regulatory oversight.

BC-based producer Tilray laid off some of their grower-employees and blamed the dispensaries and the “illegal” grower entrepreneurs. CanniMed president Brent Zettl felt compelled to “straighten out some facts” to the media regarding who he thinks, “should be seen as drug traffickers and held to charge in every instance.”

In an e-mail with Cannabis in Canada, CEO of Canadian Bioceutical Scott Boyes personally blamed, “the failure of Health Canada to effectively deal with the continued ability of MMAR producers to flood the market with medicine produced with much less rigorous regulatory oversight [and] the failure of Health Canada to effectively eliminate the growing number of dispensaries which operate outside of the law and are sourcing medicine from who knows where.”

A market analyst said that if dispensaries and compassion clubs are shut down, the LP patient base will quadruple. And with official medical clinics operating in Ontario and Alberta, it won’t be long until the market-demand for retail is satisfied.

It’s clear the LPs aren’t interested in a free and fair market, otherwise they would be actively campaigning on a reduction of Health Canada red-tape instead of criticizing their smaller-scale competitors.

Additionally, the LPs have their eyes on the recreational market.

Moses Znaimer, president of CARP Canada, an organization that serves the interests of aging Canadians, wanted a secure medical cannabis sources for his members but found most LPs not focused on the medical side in the long term.

“After surveying the market carefully, we can confidently recommend CanniMed for its singular devotion to science based medical cannabis, while many other producers have their eyes on the recreational market,” Znaimer said.

If they’re eying the recreational market, why not lobby for a more bottom-up approach? One that respects the people who have made it happen in BC.

British Columbia‘s underground cannabis farmers, extraction crews, and dispensary and compassion club owners aren’t applying for industrial greenhouses and then running up millions in bills to finance them. They were here first; they don’t need Health Canada’s permission. Patients are protected under constitutional law, not democratic governments. Where’s the incentive to cooperate?

Scott Boyes, our unlucky LP friend, didn’t just blame patients and dispensaries for the lack of his financial success. His number one issue was “the inordinate delay by Health Canada in approving the license application submitted over 9 months ago (or even communicating on the review process).”

Indeed, the enemy here is the same enemy we’ve had all along: the state.