The Last of the LPs

Canada’s licensed producer (LP) system was doomed to fail from the beginning.

First, cannabis is an agricultural product, but the regulations are written as to treat it like a highly toxic pharmaceutical, requiring a security apparatus only a career pencil-pusher in Ottawa could conceive of.

And then, from the Allard win protecting a patient’s right to grow to the “unlicensed” proliferation of dispensaries and to the recent LP product recalls due to contamination — the success of the LPs rests on the stock market, not any actual value derived from consumers.

LP credibility rested on their insistence that they grow and sell the “cleanest, safest, best-quality medicinal marijuana in the whole word.” This is clearly no longer the case.

In the last two months the contamination issue has come back to bite them in the ass.

The LPs hyped up government regulation as the reason why dispensaries should be legislated out of business. Unlike LP operations, Canada’s small cannabis businesses didn’t have the proper vetting of Health Canada’s bureaucrats.

They even lobbied to have their competition shut down because of this failure to grow and sell according to government standards.

The LPs said they were producing safe, high-quality cannabis and that the “unlicensed” cannabis industry, a culture and community that predates the LPs by decades, deserved every police raid and criminal record thrown at them.

Now the LPs are in damage control.

Mettrum and Organigram are at the heart of this scandal, with Mettrum announcing a recall for all products sold between January 1st, 2016 and March 21st, 2016. Organigram recalled certain products sold between August and December 2016.

Surely someone buying from these LPs during this timeframe used the tainted product.

Since the beginning, Ottawa has been favouring large well-financed and well-connected corporations to roll-out the legal cannabis industry. In return, the companies are heavily regulated.

But what does government regulation accomplish? In the case of Mettrum and Organigram — nothing.

The LP propaganda machine has been discouraging the grassroots evolution of Canada’s cannabis industry.

They’ve insulted free market dispensaries, growers, extraction crews. They’ve called us organized crime, claimed that our products are laced with dangerous pesticides.

The LPs claim only they can produce pharmaceutical-grade cannabis, medicine that is potent and safe for consumption.

But these criticisms don’t hold up under scrutiny.

The LPs don’t have the moral high ground. They never did but now, with the recalls, it’s painfully obvious.

Public relations has never been their strong suit. The LPs are everything they claim their free market competition is, that is, organized crime willing to use illegal pesticides and more worried about profits than anything else.

But unlike BC Bud’s craft cannabis, the LPs have the backing of the federal government. They also benefit from millions in private equity backing and financing from capital markets.

So the battle for a free-and-fair market continues, but at least now the LPs are under heightened scrutiny, and not just by Canada’s cannabis community but by the entire world.

Everyone is watching, waiting for the next slip up, the next poorly reasoned argument for why cannabis in Canada should be delegated to a top few corporate producers connected to the Liberal Party.