As governments legalize cannabis, the refrain from the politicians is always the same. One of our highest priorities is to eliminate the cannabis black market.
So why do the politicians keep passing laws and engaging in actions (or inaction) that promote and preserve the cannabis black market? In Canada, the black market still controls 85% of cannabis revenues. Not in spite of the efforts of the politicians, but because of them.
In California, the cannabis black market has grown even larger after full legalization. This is because the state government, in its infinite stupidity, made legalization of cannabis permissive, allowing county governments to opt out of legalization.
Roughly 80% of California’s counties chose to do that initially. This not only preserved the state’s black market, it allowed it to thrive and grow.
However, U.S. politicians have no monopoly on cannabis stupidity. Quebec’s provincial government has demonstrated this with yet more of its own anti-cannabis paranoia.
The provincial government has just passed a law raising the legal age for purchasing cannabis to 21 – the highest age limit in Canada. Ultimate stupidity.
First, this same province allows legal alcohol consumption starting at age 18.
Alcohol is toxic and addictive. It is responsible for over 88,000 deaths per year in the United States. And it is infamous for causing numerous other social and legal problems.
Cannabis is non-toxic and non-addictive. No one has ever died from a cannabis overdose. Indeed, many alcohol consumers are reducing or eliminating their consumption of toxic booze in favor of cannabis.
Alcohol is a poison. Cannabis has several health-promoting properties, in addition to its numerous medicinal properties.
Passing this anti-cannabis law isn’t going to stop 18 year-olds from consuming cannabis in Quebec. It will merely force those 18 year-olds to acquire their cannabis from the black market.
Quebec’s largest cannabis producer, HEXO Corp (US: HEXO / CAN:HEXO) had just finished announcing the release of its new cannabis product, Original Stash.
This is a low-cost dried cannabis option that (priced at CAD$4.49 per gram) undercuts the black market price for cannabis. It was a bold, positive move that was virtually guaranteed to take a bite out of the market share of the black market.
Now, with one stroke of the pen, Quebec’s provincial government has given that market share back to the cannabis black market. This comes in the context of Quebec already having the most-restrictive regulations on cannabis products and distribution.
Despite being Canada’s second largest population (over 8 million), there are only 22 cannabis stores in Quebec.
The province recently announced it will roughly double this total (to 43 cannabis stores). However, in comparison, the province of Alberta (with a population half the size of Quebec) now has over 300 cannabis stores.
Ontario, Canada’s largest province, has previously been in a league of its own when it comes to incompetence in regulating legal cannabis. However, Doug Ford now has a rival: Francois Legault.
The victims here? Canadian cannabis consumers, Canadian cannabis companies, and cannabis investors.