Letter: Legalization of Cannabis

Tuesday, May 1 2018

The long anticipated decriminalization of marijuana has now morphed into the projected legalization of cannabis. These are two very different things. Legalization will create an oligopoly of large industrial multimillion dollar corporations. It will also introduce a slew of restrictive new laws, driven in part by ill-informed moral panic. These laws will supposedly include severe penalties for driving while impaired, despite official admission that, while current tests can detect the presence of THC in the body, no test exists that can reliably assess the degree of impairment - if any. Send in the lawyers.

Tobacco has, to my knowledge, never been criminalized (despite King James the First of England royally fulminating against it in 1604 in his Counterblaste To Tobacco). Yet some recently published estimates conclude that some 40–50 per cent of the tobacco currently being consumed in Canada comes from illegal sources (i.e. smugglers). If up to half of a perfectly legal substance is derived from illegal sources, why on earth do our governments naïvely anticipate that this clumsy and ill-thought legalization process will eliminate unlicensed production?

The projected price frequently being bandied about for legalized cannabis is $10 a gram. Yet recent studies have concluded that the national average price for marijuana from current sources is $7 a gram. Draw your own conclusions. I hope that most of these purely profit-driven industrial cannabis operations will eventually go the way of the dot.com bubble and disappear. Not a sound investment, I suspect. 

Meanwhile, expect a flurry of Charter challenges that will both delight and enrich the legal profession. I trust, however, that common sense will in time prevail. Things will shake out. We will be able to turn over a new leaf. And small-scale budding entrepreneurs will be able to return to a more traditional localized artisanal model of production and distribution. Once that has happened, the forces of law and order will, hopefully, refocus their attention on genuine crimes with real victims.

~ David Bouvier