Government is the antithesis of a free market. Governments, by definition, use coercion to extract funds while the market relies on voluntary exchange. So while the necessity of the Harper Government’s medical marijuana policy may be debated, it is certainly not a “free market” nor does it bear any resemblance to one. To call the Health Canada program a “free market” (as the mainstream media have) is intellectual dishonesty on a grand scale.
Under the old system, Health Canada would license growers to provide for a maximum of two patients each. By 2012, there were 4,200 growers across Canada. This system, according to the Conservatives, was corrupt because surplus production would find its way into the black market for recreational use. Many of these licensed growers, according to the RCMP, were fronts for illegal grow-ops.
This system is expected to phased out by March 31st 2014. In its place will be the Conservative $1.3 billion “free market” program. It’s difficult to grasp why this was promoted as a free market since the new system will be blatantly crony-capitalist. Bureaucrats will preside over a tiny selection of growers that are being chosen by the Conservative Government, governed by Health Canada and certified by the RCMP. With the medical marijuana industry expected to grow in the next ten years, this is clearly a cash-grab to line the pockets of those in control.
Many small-scale growers will be put out of business due to legislation. Those who will profit will do so at the expense of those who are barred from production. Growers will not succeed due to high quality bud and low prices, but because they are the only legal producers. The Harper Government is essentially turning the medical marijuana industry into a state-backed cartel, similar to Canada’s Big Five banks or the Big Three telecom industries.
It remains to be seen who will be chosen as the industry’s winners – and why. Will the RCMP certify the producers based on their past performance as marijuana growers? Or will their friends be chosen? Cronyism is by definition “the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications.” We should expect no less.
Canada did not a free market in medical marijuana before this program, but it was at least freer than the new system. At the point of a gun, thousands of marijuana producers will be put out of business and only those well-funded and well-connected will be rewarded the exclusive contracts to produce marijuana. And to top it off, the Establishment has the audacity to call this a free market. Talk about Orwellian….