The Price of Cannabis Quality Assurance

There is a rumour that cannabis dispensaries and compassion clubs are supplied by biker gangs.

That may or may not be true, depending on the specific dispensary but, in order to make a blanket statement about the entire industry, especially in a mainstream newspaper, one needs proof.

A lot of these vendors, at least the credible ones, are supplied by small, peaceful, unlicensed farmers, or growers who were licensed under the old (and constitutionally valid) MMAR regime.

But don’t tell that to the Globe and Mail.

While their in-depth look at some of Toronto’s cannabis was interesting, André Picard has penned an editorial with some misconceptions, namely, that Canada’s current $7 billion industry is in the hands of organized crime.

Picard correctly points out that prohibition hasn’t worked, but he asserts that legalization needs federal regulations to protect individuals from themselves.

But where is the proof that government regulation has been effective? From guaranteeing mortgages it shouldn’t, to getting in bed with industry insiders and lobbyists — the state’s regulatory regime protects a few at the expense of many.

But according to Picard, “[T]here needs to be consumer protection standards. When you purchase some Purple Zombie or Durban Poison, you should have the assurance that it’s not tainted by pesticides or mould.”

Is this why Health Canada allows the licensed producers of the MMPR to use Monsanto pesticides on their cannabis?

Who is to determine consumer protection standards? Consumers through mutual exchange? Or unelected and unaccountable government bureaucrats who claim to always follow “best practice”?

Picard wants THC content labeled, like how we label alcohol content of beer and spirits.

Fair enough, but, unlike alcohol, you can’t die from a cannabis “overdose.”

As well, the LPs are mislabeling their THC content. So there’s another failure of federal regulations.

The best remedy here is to mimic the alcohol sector and allow for home-production and small-scale craft markets.

Competing producers of cannabis will keep THC labeling honest.

Picard writes that effective regulation will “require some bureaucracy, but that’s the price to be paid for legalization.”

Like the idiom that taxes are the price we pay for civilization, Picard’s assertion is wrong.

Bringing cannabis out of the shadows is the best means for effective regulation, for entrepreneurs regulate each other through competition, and consumers regulate businesses by patronizing competitors.

Third-party services, like consumer protection or lab-testing, are in demand and will arise where necessary.

The only job of government is protecting private property and providing a rule of law.

Anything else is ineffective interference in the nexus of voluntary exchange.

And all that amounts to is a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy, giving the advantage to the top-producers who capture the process and inundate it with unnecessary rules that bankrupt their competitors.

Picard also wrote that “we should dispense with the fiction that marijuana is medicinal.”

Yes, let’s dispense with the fact that cannabis kills cancer cells or eliminates seizures with no side effects.

“If people want to get stoned, they can get stoned. But they should also have, in return for the taxes they will pay, the assurance that their weed is legit.”

Okay then, well, let’s not pay taxes and have no assurance from the government that our cannabis is “legit.”

I’m okay with that.

Let’s allow cannabis connoisseurs to legitimize their own cannabis: from seed to farm to extractions and vending.

Let’s allow cannabis connoisseurs to self-regulate, as they have been doing for years without federal oversight (and, in fact, with aggressive actions on part of government).

Let’s allow cannabis connoisseurs to act like the free, rational adults they are.

Where the parental approval of Big Brother is both unnecessary and counter to the pillars of a free society.