Ontarians got the marijuana retail system they deserve

In July of next year, Canada will be the first large scale first world country to fully legalize recreational marijuana. This will and is having major implications worldwide, particularly in the USA, who are now being pushed to decriminalize the drug. The USA is set to lose a lot of money as US investors can invest in Canadian marijuana stocks but not in US marijuana companies, due to prohibitions. But marijuana legalization may not be all that it is cracked up to be. While generally regarded as a good thing to see unfold, there are quite a number of complications, from keeping the drug from teenagers to regulating the cultivation, marketing and distribution and ensuring compliance standards are met. It is causing quite a headache in many states and each state or province has differing rules and requirements.

Ontario Marijuana

The Ontario government in Canada have been accused of a legal marijuana policy which is not aligned with the views of Ontarian residents. Ontario have decided to completely take over the marijuana industry and cut out all private sector businesses. This is going to have two major implications. The first is that the black market will survive as people need alternatives to government mandated marijuana. The second is that there will be no profits generated for people, as all profits made are now going straight to the Ontario government, far away from ordinary citizens.

Once the law has passed, marijuana will be available in 150 government stores in Ontario, and nowhere else aside from the black market. The sales and distribution will be carried out via a chain of special-purpose stores operated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and staffed by members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, thus fulfilling two key objectives of legalization: more money for the LCBO, and more members for OPSEU.

The choice of the province’s much-loved liquor monopoly, according to the government, was in recognition of the agency’s long record of success in keeping alcohol out of the hands of children, or at least providing them with a cruelly limited selection. OPSEU’s involvement, meanwhile, ensures control of the lucrative trade passes from organized crime to organized labor, who after all have a better dental plan.

More Difficult than it Sounds

The main reason to legalize marijuana in Canada was said to be to protect the children and to eliminate the black market, and nothing to do with a rather pointless ban on a prized medicinal substance. But either way, the campaign promise is now there to be filled. The black market will not be eliminated thanks to the stance of the Ontario government.

The plan to legalize marijuana in Canada was put forward by Justin Trudeaus Liberal party, but seems to be more complicated than they had once thought. As many news outlets have reported, marijuana legalization in Canada is a mess and a disaster in Ontario in particular. There is no way that provinces are going to be ready to pass the deadline. However, this has nothing to do with incompetence of any kind. It is more the nature of marijuana legalization. It takes time to establish rules, regulations and guidelines on a complex multibillion dollar industry like cannabis. And everything has to be in place, from zoning permit laws to marketing rules to quality control to vendor guidelines. Getting it all right is a mammoth task. And the situation is the same in the USA, with different rules and requirements for all states and local counties frantically trying to get ready in states such as California where recreational marijuana will next year become a reality.

Unfortunately, Ontario has taken the very worst possible option. Parallels can be drawn to states such as Pennsylvania. While the Ontario government decided to take over the whole cannabis industry, the opposite happened in Pennsylvania, where a small number of rich and elite companies are being given licenses to grow and sell marijuana. It seems to be extreme socialism on one end with crony capitalism on the other. Both options are absolute disasters to regular cannabis users who simply want to smoke their favorite plant at a reasonable price without it being abundant in toxins. At a stretch, I think I would take Ontario. At least there I can grow my own marijuana, even if that is far more complex than what most believe. In Pennsylvania, I would have to either go without or pay the extortionate corporate price for marijuana. If history has shown us anything, it is that corporate entities are not to be trusted for food and health products.

Setting Standards

Then again Canadian marijuana legalization leaves much to be desired. There is a refusal to consider amnesty for those whose lives were ruined for senseless convictions for possession of pain relieving plant matter. For a party who is supposed to be concerned with social justice, The Liberals seem quite callous to the plight of predominantly black, Hispanic and indigenous peoples who were put behind bars for plant possession. And the Liberal party are far laxer than they should be in terms of their approach to ending prohibition. They could easily put together a regulatory framework for medical dispensaries and they should really be setting standards as world leaders in marijuana, as they are first to the table. Instead all they seem to be doing is setting a standard as to how not to implement marijuana legalization.