The year 2018 is going to be an exciting and pivotal time in the world of marijuana. Recreational marijuana is to be established in California, Maine, Massachusetts and possibly even Rhode Island, who intend to pass legalization before their main marijuana rival, Massachusetts. But on an even grander scale, California is set to become the first modern industrialized nation to proceed with recreational marijuana, the other nation being Uruguay. This could encourage the Trump administration to lessen the illogical stance on marijuana criminality at the Federal level, as it would have so many internal states where recreational marijuana is legal as well as a large border with Canada with many visitors in both directions. This is already causing a number of difficulties and apprehension within the cannabis community and marijuana industry.
No Help from the Politicians
Unfortunately, all is not so rosy in the land of Canada in terms of marijuana legalization. In fact, it has been very sluggish, haphazard and unprofessional thus far. The Liberals, who are said to have been elected on the promise that marijuana would be legalized, are not in any great hurry to get plans underway and have not done anything except delay time and time again while complaining about how difficult it is to implement recreational marijuana without doing anything to actually legalize recreational marijuana.
And the same thing seems to be happening at the provincial level as well as the national level. In Ontario, the opposition parties are remaining vague about their stance on marijuana. Attorney General Yasir Naqvi recently created the Cannabis Act, the blueprint for how and where marijuana will be sold in Ontario after the federal government legalizes it on July 1. The bill establishes the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC), an LCBO subsidiary that will control online sales and operate 40 stand-alone weed shops as of next summer. That number is set to rise to 150 by 2020. Many are dissatisfied with this mode of operation, as it effective socializes marijuana and leaves out free market entrepreneurs to the marijuana market. High taxes and low-quality marijuana will no doubt ensue, ensuring that the black market thrives. Hopefully the government marijuana will be subjected to independent testing facilities, though this is highly unlikely as it has a monopoly and there is no real need to ensure a high-quality product.
Battle of the Parties
Neither the Progressive Conservatives nor the New Democrats are tipping their hand on whether they will back the Liberal law. In fact, both parties seem critical of the implementation of the policy and it does leave much to be desired. New Democrat MPPTarasNatyshakstated that 40 retail locations cannot notpossibly serve the demand across Ontario, which could potentially indicate the consideration of letting some free market outlets into the industry to create a balance between state and independent companies. The smartest and most commons sense approach seems to have been advocated by Mike Schreiner of the Greens;
“The Liberals’ approach seems to ramp up criminalization of pot outside the government monopoly, which undermines the reasons for legalizing it in the first place…There is a better way; highly regulated and licensed local businesses to allow local farmers, small businesses and Indigenous groups to participate in the market, creating local jobs and contributing tax dollars to local communities across the province,”
And it is obvious that without affordable marijuana the black market is going to thrive, as money does play a key role in deciding what to purchase. Small, local and organic businesses are an easy and natural way forward and would prevent monopolies from entering the market. A lesser known fact about the marijuana industry in the USA is that it is becoming increasingly more monopolized, and there is little space or local marijuana from farmers, apart from possible legislation in Massachusetts. It is all going to big growing operations that are already rich due to the way that marijuana legalization is implemented in certain states. Licenses to grow marijuana are very expensive and only established companies can afford them in a lot of states.
An Election Winning Issue
With an Ontario election set for June 7, 2018, either Conservative Leader Patrick Brown or NDP Leader Andrea Horwath could succeed Kathleen Wynne as leader by the time the marijuana deadline passes on July 1. There is therefore a keen interest on where the Tories or New Democrats will land on the marijuana issue. The current bill leaves much to be desired and nobody except the current government wants to see the whole industry in the hands of the government. But even if a free market friendly piece of legislation is constructed, the most likely scenario is that it will not be ready by the deadline. Provinces in Canada are operating much like states in the USA; Being unable to meet deadlines and thus pushing the deadline back and back. The choice seems to be between a poor piece of legislation now or a better piece of legislation at a future date. While critical of the current liberal plan, neither party has a comprehensive strategy or proposal in place. They might well take 6 months to draft a plan and another 6 months to implement and pass.