Reconciliation with the Licensed Producers? 

Cannabis Canada doesn’t want to be the enemy. The association of federally licensed producers want a legal regime where anyone can get into the cannabis business. At least, that’s what they said when I called.

A representative from the group assured me that the association members aren’t trying to corner the market and bankrupt the people who’ve fought for cannabis legalization.

I told her it looks that way. For starters, the group has issued press releases calling for the shut down of dispensaries. And it is precisely these dispensaries engaging in civil disobedience that has broken down the social taboos surrounding cannabis.

“We’re not trying to shut down dispensaries” she said, “but they are still illegal.”

I got the same cliched answers about proper testing and even a claim that contaminated cannabis has killed.

But I wasn’t concerned with that. I didn’t want to argue with her, for, she was just doing her job. I wanted to know why Cannabis Canada, if they truly are looking out for a broader public interest, continue to attack dispensaries.

I gave the representative our side of the story.

“You understand,” I told her, “where we are coming from. It’s civil disobedience that has changed the attitudes towards cannabis and dispensaries are part of that process.”

“But our members follow the rules, there is a legal process in place in which one can legally grow and sell cannabis,” she said.

“I understand,” I said, and I did.

I totally concede that, from their standpoint, it makes sense as to why LPs wouldn’t want unlicensed dispensaries. As she pointed out, dispensaries are completely unregulated and the LPs are under strict Harper-era rules.

Many LPs aren’t even profiting. They’ve invested all this money and resources only to have dispensaries undercut them.

It seems the uncertainty of the market, thanks to the government, is what’s fuelling bad relations. The Cannabis Canada representative and I agreed that the federal Liberals are dragging their feet, that the sooner cannabis is legal, the better.

“It is the government’s problem,” she said, suggesting I direct my questions to the Liberals.

After all, it’s the Liberals who continue to falsely equate the BC Bud market with violent, organized crime and street gangs.

But why Cannabis Canada? “Why bother mentioning dispensaries at all? You understand what kind of message that sends to this community? Aren’t you attacking the consumers of those dispensaries as well?”

“It’s a public safety issue,” she said, and then we were back to the “rules are rules” playbook. The fact that the government has been wrong about cannabis for over 70 years and now expects us to “play by the rules” is beyond insulting.

Has the federal government not lost the moral high ground to be regulating cannabis after criminally prohibiting it for so long?

Cannabis Canada wouldn’t speak to that. That was a question for the government.

In the end, I did my best to have a rational conversation, and to some success. The representative appreciated the viewpoint and thanked me for my civility. Apparently, a vast majority of e-mails and phone calls were negative and crude.

I told her it’s because of the tone. Whether it’s true or not, whether they intend to or not, from our side of the fence, it sure looks as if LPs are moving in to price the free and fair market out of business.

And issuing press releases calling on the government to — at least temporarily — shut down dispensaries isn’t helping their cause.

Cannabis Canada wants to “see what the government comes up with and hopefully in the meantime we can all work together.”

But the road to legalization has always been about breaking unjust laws, not waiting for the government to act, not playing by the rules the government has no business writing.

If Cannabis Canada wants unity, then they have some issues that need addressing. Hopefully, my message got through.