NDP Decriminalization Won’t Work

When Britain decriminalized cannabis, the police became more aggressive towards individual possession amounts. After all, decriminalization is not legalization. With the threat of a criminal record gone for small amounts, cannabis became easy to find everywhere in lower quantities. Instead of going after large-scale dealers and organized crime, as the proponents of decriminalization promised, the unintended consequences saw more small units of cannabis on the market and thus police felt compelled by conservative communities and anti-cannabis lobby groups to combat this increase of cannabis by targeting individuals with lesser amounts.

This is the policy the NDP are promising to implement “the minute [they] form government.” And with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police asking the federal government to allow them to issue fines or tickets instead of criminal records (in addition to Pamela McColl and the American anti-cannabis lobby SAM sometimes peddling a larger influence than the actual cannabis culture itself) these are the kind of results we can reasonably come to expect in Canada.

Of course, I’m confident the NDP will legalize once they’ve looked at “complex issues, including supply” and realize that the special interests wishing to keep the licensed producer (LP) cartel small and profitable will outweigh the collective interests of BC’s cannabis farming, derivative, and retail community. It’s not conspiracy theory, in public choice theory of economics it’s called rent-seeking.

People “rent-seek” when they try to obtain benefits for themselves by using the political means of taxation and monopoly. Individuals will do this by getting a subsidy for a good they produce or by lobbying for a tariff, or by getting regulations that hamper their competitors. The LPs, for example, seek restrictions on their competitors. Otherwise, why didn’t they fund Allard or Smith nor help fight for a free and fair market? If we should blame the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) and not the LPs, then why have they completely ignored patient wishes? Is it possible that the costly bureaucratic MMPR was designed to weed out the middle class and only attract the rich and politically well connected? Where does one draw the line between self-interested motivations in a fascist economy versus a conspiracy theory because we live in a democracy and everything is honky-dory?

It’s not unreasonable to assume that an NDP government, once recognizing the failure of decriminalization, will adhere to the lobbying of the LPs. And given that the pro-MMPR side has been fighting gardens with the premise that it prescribes a “positive right” to Health Canada regulation, it won’t be unreasonable for the Thatcher-loving Mulcair to bow down to these interests. After all, not even the cannabis community apparently understands that regulation can and should be provided by market means. How can I expect an NDP federal government to turn garden-regulation over to private insurance companies like LMG?

If the NDP decriminalizes and the Police Chiefs make good on their call for fines instead of criminal records, we can expect smaller amounts of cannabis to flood the market. With a threat of jail-time for large-scale deals, but a complete decriminalization for smaller amounts, all dealers will have incentive to flood the market with lesser units. In other words, it’ll be easier to buy a quarter than a pound. This increase of cannabis, still sold on the street instead of by retail, will provide incentives for police to crack down on simple possession more than they otherwise would have. Whereas smaller amounts may have been previously disregarded for larger scale dealers and “grow-ops”, the increased nuisance of smaller amounts (coupled with anti-pot lobbying) will practically force their hand. But the decriminalization aspect means small-dealers will just keep on dealing. Where’s the risk involved? It’s been decriminalized!