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Political Analyst – Derek Thomas
With Canada on track to federally legalize marijuana by July 2018 many of Canada’s provinces are rolling out their provincial regulations. And in this case, being first is worst.
Ontario was the first province to release their plan and it may turn out to be the worst one.
Consider that Ontario is Canada’s most populous province and has the capital, Ottawa, and its Canada’s largest city, Toronto, in its territory. Its decision will have ramifications for the rest of Canada and the United States. If we can understand the system in its entirety maybe we can ensure it doesn’t infect our U.S. states as they begin to legalize.
Ontario’s legislators announced on September 8th that the province will be following in the same footsteps that they do for liquor – a government controlled monopoly.
The legislation will allow the government to run around 150 dispensaries in the province. The dispensaries and a government run website will be the only places to legally purchase weed, and all ‘illegal’ dispensaries in the territory will be shut down.
The Safe and Sensible Framework To Manage Federal Legalization of Cannabis, released by the Government of Ontario, is the official outline of how the government now plans to screw up marijuana like they did liquor. Marijuana will be distributed via stand-alone stores ran by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, or LCBO.
Purchasers must be over 19 and can only consume in their homes. Most other details, like pricing and taxes, have not yet been determined. If you like the sound of government run marijuana distribution, then just look to the guys who will be running, the LCBO.
The LCBO, obviously, regulates alcohol in Ontario. It has the exclusive right to sell liquor in Ontario. It also highly regulates beer and wine to the point that very few businesses control its distribution.
The LCBO is a terrible government body. It has been accused of multiple forms of corruption, poor service to its customers and suppliers, not verifying age, violating customer privacy rights, punishing small businesses, and overcharging customers while simultaneously ‘cooking their books’ for their betterment.
It is nothing more than a government monopoly. It consistently fails its goals of protecting citizens and is nowhere near as efficient as a regulated open market.
And now this same exact organization is going to be responsible for marijuana in Canada’s largest province.
It isn’t easy to just brush all this under the rug either. The concept of government run liquor distribution businesses is alive and well in the United States.
5 states have government controlled liquor stores; Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, and New Hampshire. Another dozen have some form of state-run liquor distribution systems.
Although we have seen some draconian marijuana legislation from states, we have yet to see anything like a government run distribution monopoly. Let’s be vigilant to ensure it stays that way.