What exactly is an LP?

There is a misunderstanding in the community that “LP” simply refers to a licensed producer, a term invented by the MMPR and carried into the ACMPR which means a company that has obtained a license from Health Canada to produce and/or distribute cannabis and certain derivatives to recognized patients.

Strictly speaking, that’s true. But as language evolves and terms take on different meanings, “LPs” have come to mean the select few companies that have been working behind the scenes to secure a cannabis cartel.

It’s no conspiracy theory that corporate lobbying is a reality of our democratic system. We see it in alcohol, tobacco, telecommunications, banking, energy and various other sectors.

Economists have even invented a word for it, “rent-seeking,” where companies with enough capital and competent political connections engage in the manipulation of government policy as a strategy for increasing profits.

In this sense, when some cannabis activists talk about the LPs they don’t necessarily mean every single licensed producer and licensed producer applicant.

A majority of these companies have been duped by Health Canada’s promise of a million-dollar industry only to be served by onerous rules and regulations that are slowly bankrupting them.

These people are no threat to the big guys or to the free market “unlicensed” alternative.

The large LPs that are a threat to the grassroots cannabis community include Canopy, Tilray, Organigram, Mettrum, Aurora, Broken Coast and others involved with the Cannabis Canada Association, (although to their credit, Canopy and Tilray have left the lobby group calling for the strict enforcement of outdated laws).

What makes these LPs a threat? Isn’t the issue government regulation?

While it’s true that every Canadian should have the freedom to grow, including LPs, the fact is these companies have been producing poor quality cannabis (with a number of recalls) while exalting their product to superior status.

They’ve lobbied the government for exclusive production and distribution, they’ve spoke openly about why the police should shut down their competition, and, with a revolving door of bureaucrats and lawyers in Ottawa, they have a stronger voice in the legalization debate than the cannabis culture (the people engaged in civil disobedience, normalizing cannabis and creating the conditions that permit these companies to even exist at all).

Of course, the argument can be made that these LPs are just trying to protect their profits. They’ve successfully overcome Health Canada’s oppression while the competition is free from the bureaucratic hurdles. It’s not fair, they say.

There’s some truth to this, but, unfortunately, these LPs miscalculated their public relations.

Instead of blaming the very real problem of government regulation, they’ve attacked members of the cannabis community. Instead of openly defying unjust laws, they expect us to play ball like they did.

This is what separates the technical term “licensed producer” with the cultural definition of “LP.”

It’s been said that one day we will all be “LPs” in the sense that all cannabis participants will need to be licensed and regulated. Perhaps even consumers who chose to grow their own will end up on some Health Canada database.

As cannabis activist and lawyer Kirk Tousaw put in a Facebook post: “There are very few things you can produce and sell to the public in a wholly unregulated or unlicensed manner. Cannabis will not be, and should not be, an exception to this.”

But why shouldn’t cannabis be exempt? Why are there “very few things” you can produce and sell to the public without government approval? Must the democratic state involve itself with every nuance of human action?

Isn’t it precisely the state’s licensing and regulatory systems that prop up well-connected capitalists at the expense of small-time entrepreneurs?

Can’t cannabis be a gateway to fixing that? Or should we accept the fact that the same state apparatus that banned the herb now wants to restrict and regulate how we produce and consume it?

The same state apparatus responsible for environmental degradation, crony-capitalism, real estate bubbles, and other social ills.

What happened to the classical liberal tradition of questioning everything this territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making says and does?

We have government regulation. It led to the creation of the MMPR and the LPs. What makes you think Liberal propaganda about public health and safety, about disrupting “organized crime” and protecting “the children” won’t continue this status quo?

LPs are the cannabis producers who benefit from this injustice.