Mark Kleiman is Wrong

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at New York University and he doesn’t think cannabis should be sold for profit.

Kleiman is not a business person, he works for a university, paid through taxes and inflated tuition fees. He does not understand why profit and loss are necessary in allocating scarce resources to their most productive uses.

Kleiman believes that 20 per cent of cannabis users have a substance abuse problem, and so, the Canadian government should adopt discredited economic ideas from the former Soviet Union.

“If you’re in the drug-selling business where the drug is called cannabis or alcohol, substance abuse disorder isn’t a diagnosis, that’s your target demographic.” Kleiman said, adding, “The commercial interest of the for-profit industry is directly, diametrically opposite to the public interest.”

But how does Keliman know what the “public interest” is?

If 80 per cent of the population were addicted to opiates (and assuming there wouldn’t be a protected cartel of producers, but a free-and-fair market of entrepreneurs), then who is to say that this population shouldn’t be consuming opiates?

If opiate addicts are destroying the property of others, and all other means of averting this destruction have failed, then concerned citizens might have a case for targeting the “for-profit” producers.

But, clearly, this is a hypothetical. If producers, whether of opiates, alcohol, or even cannabis, are contributing to civilization in ways that are destructive, they lose money, and, unless they change their ways, will eventually have to declare bankruptcy.

Unless producers are protected by government regulations, where competition is suppressed and consumers little choice, consumers reign sovereign.

Profits are an indication to entrepreneurs that consumers are happy with their business.

And the more producers there are, the more competition there is for the consumer’s patronage.
The ability to act in ways that are damaging for consumers or society as a whole are diminished.

We already have the laws in place to exercise, through non-political forces, reasonable care as to not injure others and their property. 

But Kleiman disagrees.

Although he correctly suggests that people should be able to grow their own cannabis and set up cooperatives, he thinks these co-ops should be strictly non-profit, or that the government should create a state-owned monopoly.

Kleiman also suggests that prices should stay high to “discourage use by young people and heavy drug users.”

Clearly, Kleiman is not a professor of history or economics, since price control has never worked.

The consequences of keeping prices artificially high will only serve the black market, and not just for young people, but for any adult looking for cheaper cannabis than what’s sold by government retailers.

According to Kleiman and the Liberal party, legalization should ensure public safety and public health, not profit.

But these do not have to be mutually exclusive. There is money to be made in ensuring that cannabis products are safe and healthy.

Pseudo-intellectuals in the universities, disconnected from the market process, and politicians, who make their livelihood living parasitically off the productive output of taxpayers, are ignorant of these facts.

They claim to know what’s in the “public interest” in the same way the Chinese Communist Party claims to know what’s best for their country — by cloaking the exploitative actions of a politically-dominant class through a moral argument.