Why Should the State Regulate Cannabis?

It’s a foregone conclusion to the majority of Canadians — why wouldn’t the state regulate cannabis? Who else would do it?

Despite terms like “free-for-all” being tossed around in the media, a free market is regulated by the buying power of consumers which, if common sense and historical precedent is of any indiction, is vastly superior to bureaucratic management.

I’ve written about this at least twice before — “We already have the laws in place to regulate cannabis effectively, there is no need for a new federal bureaucracy or provinces setting up control boards and issuing licenses. That’s not regulation, that’s a cash-grab by governments with a spending problem.”

Of course, the zeitgeist is that our governments don’t have a spending problem, these million and billion dollar deficits are merely just “investments” for the future.

Well, like Kevin O’Leary’s open letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, if these government spending projects are actually investments, then we should know “the terms of each deal, what I paid for my equity or debt positions, my voting rights and what governance is in place in each investment.”

As well as, “a quarterly statement of fund flows in and out of the account documenting the source and use of proceeds.”

Of course, government doesn’t work like that. The state is an organization very different from the ones in the private sector. If Kevin O’Leary tried to run his businesses on a tax-and-spend model, he’d soon face prison time for theft and violence.

Governments, on the other hand, rely on a social contract. Neither you nor I have seen nor signed this contract, but its existence is assumed, based on you and I following the state’s rules.

It’s a common argument often thrown at anti-statists — “if you don’t like it, then you can just get out!”

But is there any basis for the social contract? And if there is no basis, then how can the state claim eminent domain on the cannabis industry? An industry they tried to suppress, unsuccessfully, for an entire century?

The first step in disentangling this argument is to recognize that peaceful individuals have the moral high-ground. The state holds a monopoly on all legitimate uses of violence, and so, unlike services you voluntarily purchase and sign contracts for — e.g. insurance companies, private security firms — the state forces its authority through the barrel of a gun.

In any rational sense of lawful activity, the burden of proof should be on the state agents. They need to justify why their use of force on peaceful people is necessary.

To argue that my mere presence on this land (where I was born) means I consent to the violent behaviour of the state does not stand up to scrutiny.

If my neighbour used my backyard as a garbage dump, but I choose not to move out immediately, then have I demonstrated my consent to his garbage ? Obviously not.

If I invited you over to my home and I had ridiculous house rules, then it is totally within my right to demand these rules be followed (just as it is your right to leave my house). Switch it around, and if I visit your house, I can no longer enforce these same ridiculous rules unless you consent.

But what if I said you had to? By inviting me into your house you’ve consented to these implicit rules by just being in the same area as me?

Having been born Canadian, does this mean I have consented to the state’s rules and authority? No, that’s begging the question, it’s assuming the very thing that has to be proven.

“If you don’t like it, then get out!” is an argument that overlooks the distinction between who is making the rules and whether they are just.

In my house I can make you wear a chicken-costume, but that authority only extends to the end of my property line.

But I use roads, Canada Post and health-care. Therefore, I must have consented somewhere down the line, right? But my use of these unavoidable services I’ve been forced to pay for in no way demonstrates my consent.

Are prisoners in jail for cannabis-related crimes consenting to their imprisonment since they eat prison food and take prison showers?

This idea of a “social contract” is really the idea of implicit and tacit consent. My actual words and actions demonstrate dissent, but so long as people give the state a moral high-ground, implicit consent is the order of the day. The state relies on force, not any sort of consensual relationship with its “customers”

There are plenty of peaceful, hardworking people that don’t consent to the state’s expropriation of the cannabis industry.

So why should the state regulate cannabis? Its monopoly of force is immoral, unethical and incapable of mimicking free markets in any realistic fashion.

The state failed to eradicate cannabis and it will fail with its regulation.

No contracts have been signed. The peaceful members of Canada’s cannabis community are being squeezed out based on a “social contract” whereby the state does what it wants and if you don’t like it, then you can just get out!