Cannabis entrepreneurs have long been irked by unfair government competition. How are private-sector dealers supposed to operate in the marketplace if their customers have access to what federal health Minister Leona Aglukkaq justly calls tax-payer subsidized weed?
Colorado and Washington states have just legalized recreational marijuana use. They will have to obtain their supplies somewhere.
Nor is the Canadian reefer market itself stagnant. As Aglukkaq acknowledged, the demand for “medical” marijuana in Canada has experienced an astounding 55-fold increase over the last 10 years.
Until now, the minister said, Canada’s fledgling legal marijuana industry has been hampered by red tape and government interference.
Misguided attempts to let users grow small amounts of medical marijuana at home irked local fire departments. More than that, however, the old rules discouraged the economies of scale required to draw investment dollars into this bold new industry.
At the same time, the original decision to let government bureaucrats control cannabis production put a damper on private entrepreneurs — such as the ones operating around the corner from my home who already provide valuable services to schoolchildren and others.
In the marketplace, marijuana sells for roughly $ 7 to $ 10 a gram according to the authoritative British Columbia website Price of Weed. Yet unionized civil servants with fat-cat pensions have been providing the same product to consumers for only $ 5 a gram.
In Conservative Canada, marijuana is an industry like any other. This government has just eliminated the Wheat Board’s monopoly over grain production. Did anyone think it would fail to do the same for Canada’s struggling weed entrepreneurs?
At the time, skeptics wondered what Colombia might sell to Canada under free trade. Now we know. The market for pharmaceuticals is limitless. Marijuana is only the beginning.
Lower-level operatives, including security enforcement professionals and payment encouragement officers, can enter the country as temporary skilled workers, thereby providing necessary expertise until provincial apprenticeship programs for servicing the drug trade are up and running.
Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.