Statist “Free Market” Legalization

Democracy really is an insidious form of communism, where we all live at the expense of one another, where each moment of our lives, from cradle to grave, from the moment we wake up to when we go to bed — is influenced by government bureaucracy.

We’ve come a long way from classical liberal ideas of the Enlightenment.

It’s little wonder that cannabis legalization is shaping up to be top-down bureaucratic control, awarding a few top producers and retailers at the expense of everyone else.

This is a country where state-run education is unquestionable, where state-run health care is universally defended despite its colossal failures. Where welfare programs create a permanent underclass of state-dependent residents and where aggression overseas is exalted as “peacekeeping.”

So when the Union of BC Municipalities meet and pass two cannabis-related resolutions favouring local control, or when the Ontario Chamber of Commerce writes to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne that, when it comes to cannabis, “We believe that a private-sector, licensing-based and locally orientated approach is one worth seriously considering,” — I’ll take what I can get.

Canadians won’t accept a free-and-fair market until later, when the principles of liberty direct individual decisions, when children are pulled from schools, when health-care professionals take a cue from cannabis activists and start offering their skills outside the state’s monopoly system.

Or, when the Bank of Canada’s debasement of money is seen as the criminal act it is.

In the meantime, when discussing cannabis legalization in a statist environment, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have one of the next-best options.

Ontario’s Liberals want the alcohol monopoly as the exclusive retailer.

The OCC, “While not endorsing an entirely free-market model,” cautions the Ontario Liberals “against creating a system that is so onerous that it effectively duplicates the existing ineffective regime thus sustaining illegal channels for production and distribution.”

“A licensing system,” they continue, “whereby a fixed number of access points are auctioned out to both the public and private sectors—including unions—may be a more efficient model of regulated delivery.”

Of course, I won’t advocate for a crony-capitalist model that empowers the state to auction off “access points,” but if the only other option is the liquor monopoly, well, it’s like choosing between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Which is the lesser evil? Private enterprise over-regulated by the government or government-run enterprises?

In a similar vein, the Union of BC Municipalities passed two resolutions that don’t refer to dispensaries as “illegal” and requests that local governments are at the table when Ottawa hands legalization responsibilities to the provinces.

The more locally orientated we can get, where power is delegated to the individual, the better-off we’ll all be. Even those who don’t consume and have no interest in it.

The worst thing Ottawa can do is centrally plan every aspect of the legal regime, forcing a one-size-fits-all scheme across the nation.

The best thing Ottawa can do is recognize that free markets are superior to government bureaucracy and liberalize the plant and its derivatives. 

The reality is going to be somewhere in the middle. The closer we get to a free market, the better, but it won’t happen on day one and it won’t happen in a vacuum.

Cannabis is a gateway to liberty, we can point out how the state has been wrong in the past, how unnecessary and destructive Health Canada is, but cannabis isn’t the only gateway.