The headline is that more local governments in Ontario are (cautiously) gravitating toward legalized cannabis. But the sub-title is even more revealing.
Illegal weed is a bigger problem than legal weed for some of these communities
This is not only stating the obvious. It is an understatement. Illegal cannabis is a “bigger problem” for all communities than legal cannabis.
First of all, none of the anti-cannabis mythology surrounding legalization has proven to be true. As has been seen in U.S. states with more mature cannabis markets, legalization has produced only positive benefits at the local level.
However, even if some of the mythology was valid, this is still no reason to continue Prohibition.
That’s the one unequivocal lesson (learned the hard way) from both alcohol Prohibition in the United States and the War on Drugs. Even for a dangerous drug like alcohol, legalization reduces rather than increases social harms.
Now, one year after legalization in Canada, increasing numbers of local governments in Ontario are embracing this obvious truth. And they are seeing the evidence themselves.
The rollout of retail shops in Ontario hasn’t phased out drug dealers. The underground market has kept its price lower than its legal competition, while also capitalizing on municipalities without storefronts.
Yes. This is what has been demonstrated in California, where local reluctance to embrace legalized cannabis has caused its cannabis black market to grow larger following legalization.
Look past the headline and sub-title, and we immediately see more evidence of how the provincial government has undermined the legal cannabis industry with its gross incompetence and the anti-cannabis phobias of members of Ontario’s Conservative government.
Cannabis became legal on Oct. 17, 2018, and Ontario municipalities had until Jan. 22, 2019, — barely three months — to decide if they would opt in or out.
Pure incompetence and stupidity at the provincial level.
The first thing that should have been communicated to local governments while the provincial government was finalizing an overall framework is that local governments needed to make their own decision to opt in or opt out of legalization. This would have given these governments twice as much time to study the issue.
The result of yet more incompetence from the Doug Ford government?
…a massive pot desert.
There are no cannabis stores between Oshawa and Kingston, leaving consumers in cities like Quinte West and Belleville — the latter will be home to Hexo’s Centre of Excellence — having to resort to the Ontario Cannabis Store online or illegal dealers. [emphasis mine]
To cover up for its serial incompetence, all we get from Ontario’s provincial government is lies and more anti-cannabis mythology.
“Despite the ongoing federal cannabis supply shortages, Ontario is taking further action to protect young people, keep our roads and communities safe and combat the illegal market in response to the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis,” Attorney General Doug Downey said in a press release from July 2019. [emphasis mine]All nonsense.
“ongoing federal cannabis supply shortages”
A lie. Inventories of legal cannabis have been steadily growing since legalization and the federal government has publicly rejected Ontario’s claim.
“protect young people”
An anti-cannabis myth. Real science has emerged that cannabis use has no adverse cognitive effects on teens. One of the doctors responsible for the original myth recanted her conclusion. She re-studied the issue (using legitimate methodology) and concluded there were no harmful effects on teens. Legalization also reduces teenage use of cannabis.
“keep our roads and communities safe”
An anti-cannabis myth. There is now 6 years of empirical evidence (from the U.S.) that legalizing cannabis has produced no road-safety or community-related issues of any kind.
“combat the legal market”
You don’t “combat the illegal market” by freezing-out legal cannabis operations. As the state idiots have now proven in California: by not opening up the legal industry, the black market grows larger, not smaller.
In spite of provincial incompetence, the legal cannabis industry in Ontario is growing. Recent data from Statistics Canada, shows that Ontario generated the most cannabis revenues from October 2018 through July 2019.
Hoever, it only edged out Alberta (CAD$151 million to CAD$144 million). And Alberta has less than one-third the population of Ontario.
The Ontario government has promised to award 50 new cannabis store licenses, tripling retail storefronts in the province. But due to yet more provincial incompetence, the government is currently only moving forward on roughly 30 licenses.
In contrast, Alberta has licensed over 300 cannabis retail stores to date.
Ontario’s government continues to fail its residents and fail local governments in both its administration of and attitudes toward legalized cannabis. Apparently, the only way to get a rational and well-regulated legal cannabis industry in Ontario is for Ontario residents to vote-in a more competent (and enlightened) government.