The Continued Criminalization of BC Bud

By “legal cannabis” the government means the approved facilities, which, right now, consists of 33 licensed producers.

Meanwhile, the BC Bud “craft” industry, which already fetches $5 billion in the market, and, if legitimatized, will bring in even more, remains criminalized.

What makes BC’s grassroots industry more “craft” than the Ottawa-sanctioned LPs? Well, for starters, the former farmers don’t gamma irradiate their cannabis. They don’t grow in sterile conditions that require wearing masks and lab coats.

In other words, the BC craft industry act as if they were farmers, not scientists assembling an atomic bomb or a space shuttle.

Perhaps the argument can be made that patients need a clean, sterile, irradiated product. Okay, that’s fair, and unlike Health Canada, I’ll leave that decision to the individual patient.

But for “recreational” users, for people who’ve already smoked “black market” cannabis and have been doing so for, in some cases, three generations or more — all this hoopla about contaminated cannabis and proper testing is drug war propaganda.

The only testing required for cannabis is that demanded by consumers. Quality assurance is a service that can and should be provided by entrepreneurs.

As we see in real-life, government requirements on cannabis are not satisfying the actual consumers of the product.

That’s why dispensaries are all the rage. Contrary to the logic of Ontario bureaucrats, who have mixed up cause and effect, who think dispensaries have illegitimatized the regulations, the fact is onerous regulations spawned an “unregulated” retail sector.

Burdensome regulations keep “underground” farmers alive and well. If the government wants storefront dispensaries and their suppliers regulated, then the solution is to offer the BC Bud industry self-regulation.

With more knowledge than liquor stores and unions, the BC craft industry knows how to run their industry. They know how to grow, sell, extract, tend, and package all the components necessary to make BC Bud what it is.

That’s not to say the 400+ licensed producer applicants can’t join in. A free market means free entry.

Prohibition fosters risk in production and consumption. Overregulation hasn’t worked and never will.

All the government needs to do is remove cannabis from the criminal code and give the provinces authority to regulate as they see fit.

But when an LP like Tilray meets with Health Canada over bogus reports of contaminated cannabis, when Health Minister Jane Philpott releases a statement suggesting that, “products in dispensaries are untested, unregulated and may be unsafe,” what cannabis connoisseurs are hearing is more of the same.

Health Canada is basically saying that you, as an adult, cannot make rational choices. That you need the heavy-hand of government bureaucracy to protect you from yourself.

It’s the same drug war mentality that justified cannabis prohibition for all these years. Breaking that mentality is crucial for ending prohibition.

We may be able to buy gamma irradiated cannabis from a liquor store conglomerate. We may not risk jail time for smoking a plant. But the authoritarian nature dictating what you can do with your own body remains, and that’s not legalization.