On Justin and half-freeing the weed

Plus … Colby Cosh makes his own case for legalizing marijuana


Aaron Haspel, a little-known blogger who would have been world-famous as an epigrammist if he’d been born in 1880, observed the other day that “Revolution is seeded by abuse and watered by reform.” The bit after the “and” is a compact restatement of one of history’s few persistent patterns that may deserve to be called a law: namely, that the incremental redress and repair of longstanding injustice only whets the appetite for immediate, total, violent change. Even the best among us (by which I obviously mean me) are prone to this greedy, unconservative, unhelpful sort of reaction.

Case in point: our Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, has taken what’s perceived as an incredibly courageous step in the direction of small-L-liberalized drug policy, leapfrogging past decriminalization of marijuana to a “You should just be able to buy it if you want it and you’re a dang grown-up” position. As with the analogous same-sex marriage issue, public opinion has migrated so quickly that the more I study the Liberal stance, which would have been unspeakable in about 1995, the more annoyed I am by its hedges and cautions and yes-buts. Let’s go all the way! Knock down the pubs and replace them with Dutch-style coffeehouses! It’s the right thing to do! Gawd, why are we still having this discussion? Justin’s a big wuss! Wuss wuss wuss!

My own position is that in legalizing marijuana it would make a lot of sense to give it the exact legal status of edamame or chrysanthemums. This is not what Justin or anybody else within a mile of power is proposing: they want to legalize-and-tax-and-regulate. And when Justin says “tax and regulate,”  he doesn’t mean “…in the same way as a potato chip.” He means it ought to be taxed and regulated like tobacco and alcohol, as if it were no less harmful to public health and the general welfare than those things. He should ask his favourite emergency-room physician whether he would prefer a world in which people have to sip Jägermeister furtively in their homes but business meetings and stag parties happen in festive, ubiquitous marijuana “bars.”

The most famous and effective Liberal argument-slash-plan for legalization was crafted early this year by the policy committee of the party’s B.C. wing. As a legalizer one reads the resolution passed by the national party at its 2012 biennial, included in the newer document, and cheers: Liberals believe that the Canadian people have voted heavily for marijuana with their lungs without ever having much opportunity to do so with their ballots, and are denouncing the lost billions in wealth exhausted in a farcical invented war between pot producers and traffickers on one side and the police and courts on the other.

It is when you get into the details filled in later that you begin to realize the new world may involve almost as much noisome expense as the old. The Liberals, it turns out, are friendly to marijuana if it’s a half-ounce split between buddies in Comox, but they wouldn’t dream of retiring from the marijuana theatre in the War on Drugs:

Out of respect to other countries that may not share Canada’s progressive views, we recommend the government maintain a zero-tolerance of any import or export of marijuana—including countries and states that have decriminalized or ended prohibition.

To enforce this zero-tolerance policy, we recommend dramatically increasing criminal penalties for the export of marijuana and reallocation of some domestic marijuana enforcement resources to border patrol and intelligence. The vast majority of these resources would be allocated at US border crossings.

Disappointing. But at least we’re creating a domestic market to capture all the economic benefits that pot liberation offers! Except you’ll only be allowed to grow like six or so plants unless you have a licence to operate as a pot grower—maybe eight plants, maybe 12, we’ll figure it out as we go—and you won’t be allowed to buy, use, store, or carry more than four ounces of the stuff, with higher-than-ever penalties for having five. The people we were investigating and arresting as “traffickers” will now have to be investigated and arrested as potential exporters, and you will recall we’re taking a zero-tolerance line on exporting. It makes one wonder where those police resources freed up for reallocation to the border are going to come from.

What are the potential harms of reforming marijuana law my way: by simply eliminating the words “marijuana,” “cannabis,” and “tetrahydrocannabinol” from all federal statutes? Warning: if you bring up a youth access argument I will laugh in your face and tell you to take another look back at Rehtaeh Parsons’ Twitter account. It is not the letter of the law that decides whether minor children abuse any substance to the point of derangement: it is the prevailing social environment, the total number of half-decent parents the child has paying close attention, and sometimes, probably, just the child’s inborn personality.

It is my suspicion that we have more young marijuana users now than we did when I was a teenager: this is not attributable to any change in our law, but almost entirely to popular culture, just like the corresponding declines in smoking and drunk driving. It is my conviction that the mass cultural dialogue is more honest now about the actual danger of cannabis addiction, which amounts to “If you smoke a ton of pot you will become a pothead—which means ‘not less healthy in any quantifiable way, but slightly torpid and passive mentally, and almost certainly a crashing bore.’ ” After tens of thousands of studies there is almost nothing in the medical literature that contradicts this basic picture, and at his bloodshot-eyed worst The Pothead looks quite attractive next to the carnival horrors of The Tobacco Smoker and The Alcoholic.

We can, one supposes, make a few legal arrangements concerning cannabis and THC for the comfort of brain-damaged soccer moms and the newspaper columnists who speak for them. Do you want to have the death penalty for selling marijuana within 200 feet of a school? You are preposterous if you think that matters, but, fine, I will gladly trade a few exemplary guillotinings of the careless for a proper marijuana liberalization. Should we have licensing for marijuana sellers, making a contract with dealers and shops that binds them to check for ID and suffer medieval consequences if they sell to a minor? As long as the license regime doesn’t become a repugnant permanent cartel like city taxi commissions, we can live with that. Again: if you’re a crappy parent, none of this will prevent your child from hot-knifing blinding quantities of hash at a bush party. But we can take these steps explicitly for the people who are invincibly unaware of the world we live in. We’ll call it the Calm Down, You Dolts Act.

The important point is that regulating sales, if we want to, does not imply that we need to do anything at all to limit, suppress, or monitor production and transport of marijuana. It is only the lingering superstition that a sack of pot is somehow inherently more menacing than a sack of peas that would require us to regulate every step in the supply chain. Note that in their white paper on weed the B.C. Liberals hope to tax pot at “30-35%” (including existing sales taxes). They do recognize that the more they torque the price, the more they will spare the “black market” they are hoping to trample: they have partly absorbed the principle that the best way to eliminate black markets is to decree them un-black. But in fact it is not even clear that 30-35% would be the optimum tax incidence from the standpoint of collecting maximum revenue for the state; this number seems to represent nothing but the instinct that a sin must have sin taxes attached, as night followeth day.

The Conservatives made fun of Justin for making legalization one of his “first policy priorities.” (So too, let the record show, did those hyper-rationalist evidence-loving “progressives” in the NDP.) They’re all about jobs and economic growth, those Conservatives. But if you regard marijuana as mostly harmless, which is what it is, it soon becomes agonizing to imagine the jobs and economic growth that would explode into existence if we made being good at growing marijuana, or even just being very knowledgeable about it, into a career path.

How many people does the wine business employ in a country which has about a postage stamp’s worth on surface area on which grapes can be grown? How many people are kept on a payroll by wine in some way—by vintners, fancy restaurants, liquor stores, wine-kit shops, makers of corkscrews and wine buckets and wine racks, wine trade associations, and heaven knows what else? All that is required to create an equal or larger field of commercial activity almost overnight, and you cannot possibly doubt that it would happen, is for us to just stop being such ninnies about marijuana.

There is a first-mover advantage to be captured here, to say nothing of the tourism dollars to be gained from treating marijuana more or less like icewine. You will have noticed the weird rhetoric in the Liberal policy paper about respecting “countries that may not share Canada’s progressive views” and immediately emphasizing the need to crush exports even to those countries that do share them. But it ought to be obvious that, in time, there will exist a licit, open international marijuana trade that resembles today’s international wine trade. Since there is no good reason on earth to treat marijuana and wine differently, and it is hard to see awareness of this shrinking rather than increasing, the treatment they do receive seems bound to become more similar as time goes by. This might be naive optimism, but my guess is that it will happen in parts of the secular West faster than most of us imagine. (Revolution is watered by reform!)

And in many ways British Columbia is already the France of weed. But imagine if local growers were allowed to operate in the open, establish the kind of historic brand continuity that exists in the wine business, develop customized cannabiculture techniques through intergenerational trial and error, define and exploit the individual terroirs of different parts of the country, establish appellations contrôlées… is this something we really don’t want, to be the world’s acknowledged senior master creators of an “intoxicant”? We don’t want future connoisseurs to fly from Earth’s four corners to the Okanagan and Niagara Valleys the way they flock to the Côtes du Rhône or Sonoma? Yes, I say, legalize marijuana, and, yes, do it for the children: not to make them wait until they are 18 to smoke it, but to give them good jobs studying the stuff as a consumer product, cultivating it, and selling it to the world.


On Justin and half-freeing the weed

  1. A tax rate of 35% makes this a game everyone can play. The Liberals and NDP legalize pot, then future conservative governments cut the taxes. Let’s conscript RIM to develop a bong that generates electricity so the Greens can get in on it too.

    • Ha! Colby is right. You think people who are growing their own and “criminals” are going to go out of business rather than compete in a black market against the government run and high tax pot selling market? You are very naive. This ridiculous “limited legalization BS will keep the cannabis business underground” and kids will be looking for the best “bang” for their buck.

      • Very few grow their own tobacco or make their own alcohol despite high taxation.

        • It’s also quite labour intensive to grow your own.Not a realistic choice for most.

          • wrong ,pots easy to grow

          • Pot might grow easily — but so what. It means you have to buy growing equipment, tend the stuff, harvest it etc .. most won’t bother; they just buy it like tobacco or alcohol.

          • if the price is right

          • Sure, pot is easy to grow. I grew it with my father’s flowers & tomatoes when I was a teen ager.
            But it wasn’t of great quality.
            And the plants get really big…a lot of people haven’t the time or the space to properly cultivate the best stuff. And rolling a joint is not for everyone either.
            Just like getting loose tobacco vs packaged ciggies, or making your own wine or beer from kits, vs buying at the liquor store.. Convenience comes with a price that a lot of people are willing to pay for.

          • i agree but you never know whats in it or on it when others do it for you

          • Are you crazy? It is the easiest thing to grow.

          • Assuming you live in a climate where that is possible.

          • Where in Canada ISN’T it possible?

          • they got greenhouses in Antarctica

          • Wrong. It matures in 30 days, grows like weeds. Outside in the sun and rain, no work at all. It is after all, a weed.

          • With no work at all, you harvest crap weed in small quantities.

          • And if not properly cultivated, can be crappy. Or too big for your space. Or eaten by rabbits and deer.

          • Exactly. One of my friends got into it, and it’s clear that unless you do it properly, which takes some care, effort and expense, you end up either screwing up completely or making really lousy weed.

          • thats why friends help friends

        • Yes but you aren’t living in BC. It is pretty easy to grow pot there and the pot is high quality. It is also easy to grow in other places like your own garden. This vs. liquor and tobacco. Neither is very easy to produce.

          • It’s easy to grow tomato as well, but few people do it. There’s a substantial marijuana industry in Ontario, too. At the end of the day though, I don’t care if I’m wrong on this point. We just need to end the farce of marijuana prohibition.

          • Stop making silly analogies.
            There is not an underground tomato market because you can`t get stoned ingesting a tomato.

          • I think that is exactly what we are saying but doing the job 1/2 way and deciding that only certain growers can grow it and people can have restricted amounts isn’t ending the prohibition. It is starting a marketing board, just like dairy.
            As for likening cannabis to tomatoes. If tomatoes were taxed at 35%, were as easy to grow as pot (they aren’t) and had as big a market (they don’t), people would be growing them and selling them under the table too.

          • Tobacco’s easy to grow – it’s a weed too. It needs sunlight and water, but it will flourish in even the worst soil. Curing it is easy – basically a drying process. Get a carton of rolling papers and you’re set. People don’t do it because it’s time consuming and heading to the corner store for a pack is quick, convenient, and pretty cheap on the whole.

            Beer and wine are easy and you can make some pretty high quality product these days. For hard liquor, a ‘still’ is pretty easy to do as well – my dad made one for distilling water. Would have worked just as well for distilling alcohol – just a different temperature. The storing and aging to get a good product is pretty tough these days, so most just leave it to the professionals.

            Human ingenuity is a wonderful thing, and I’m sure that better cannabis can still be developed and grown. Nice to know we’ll have something to fall back on when the oil industry goes into decline.

        • True – but LOTS of people now purchase bootlegged cigarettes – it’s 25%+ of the national market. It is a function of price. If pot taxes are too high, organized crime will still be in the game.

          There is no point to doing it if is priced into the stratosphere. Because the various provincial governments have the final say on that aspect of excise tax, there is considerable room for regional variation and overreaching on price. When you put 10 provincial finance ministers into the room, it is going to be hard to get them all on side when at least some of them will probably be ideologically opposed and may try to make it fail.

          If Justin is serious about it, he should demand that for the first ten years only the Federal government will impose excise taxes on the product, but will agree to a % split of that tax with the provinces. That way, the price can be low enough and *mostly* be uniform across the country so that bootlegging can be drowned in the bathtub.

          It is a LOT harder to stop bootlegging which is already established, than it is to prevent bootlegging from springing into existence into the market in the first place. All of the governments are going to have to work together to not be greedy with the sin taxes in order for this to work.

          Unfortunately, that is a rather counter-intuitive approach to the way that our governments generally act when it comes to sin taxes.

          • I pretty much agree with you. I think its worthwhile to remember that we probably won’t get there in one push. Justin’s halfhearted legalization could well be followed later by a more full blown liberalization when experience can inform policy.

        • No it isn’t. I haven’t smoked in a few years but we used to just grow it in pots in the backyard and dry it ourselves, then keep it in the freezer. I can’t believe anybody would be stupid enough to pay for, let alone pay taxes on, a WEED fer crissakes

      • nonsense.legalization is not limited. only in your mind

        • You are telling me that people in BC won’t be growing more than 6 plants?

          • i cant predict what a new law will be. once its legal the price will go way down,so why bother growing if its 100 a pound for the bomb

          • The government will apply a ‘sin tax’ so the price won’t be going “way down”.

          • its been done already . sold as medical weed for 30 an oz at mmar.ca in southern ontario the guy had no competition either . keep it real lol

          • I am sure the government isn’t taxing medicine but it sure does tax the sinful/enjoyable things like booze/cigarettes and recreational drugs.

          • tax on a 50 cent oz is nothing to worry about

          • Now it is a 50 cent ounce. I am sorry but you are completely dreaming. In Canada, we will likely pay $15.00 for a joint.

          • dont send me any more ridiculous posts

          • Back at you tennessee…enjoy your 50 cent an ounce pot.

          • i look forward to it .hash is going for 1.50 an oz. in Afgh. here in Canada 3 to 400 an oz .we can do it better and cheaper . widen your horizons

          • Some will – there will be farms and large greenhouses. Drying and storage areas, neatly rolled joints, packaged like cigarettes, with distribution to legal outlets across the country.

            Fewer middlemen and open shipping will lead to a much lower price. Low enough that dealers and small grow-ops can’t make a profit and growing your own isn’t worth it. Even with tax, it will still be a lot cheaper than the street price.

            Next generation of kids will look back at us and compare it to the prohibition of alcohol – both really stupid ideas.

        • I don’t think you read this article.

          • i read the article and the liberal white paper too this “limited “is just a trial idea. not fact

          • Oh a “trial idea”…..so it will only take effect if Justin Trudeau gets elected and then actually decides to legalize cannabis. Otherwise, this ‘trial Liberal manifesto” on how to run the legalization of cannabis won’t be an issue. Well then, it WAS all in my mind! You’re right, legalization won’t be limited.

          • the white paper is based on washington. they have not started retail sales yet so the paper will have to change accordingly when sales start ,if they even decide to keep following washington’s example

      • The best idea is to sell it for actual costs plus taxes. It’s relatively cheap to grow and harvest, but because it’s illegal, distribution is very expensive. There are lots of middle men, each taking their cut, and that pushes the street price up – you pay a premium for risk.

        Price it at about 10% of street price and you’ll put dealers out of business, and probably home growers too. It just won’t be worth it.

  2. Pandering to the pothead vote Justin? When does this demographic ever find time from indulging in the bong to ever make the long trip to the polling station? Or is the leader of the Liberal Party thinking of opening a chain of drive through pot shops? Some extra cash never hurts just in case you have to reimburse another charity you charged $20,000 for a rather lame speaking engagement.

    • The youngest boomer/hippie is now 48….what ‘youth’ vote are you talking about?

      • Mixing middle class metaphorical phrases again Emy? Or does the glib/Lib sib/kid work for you as well?

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      • Swing and a miss on this one Emily.

        • Hippies/boomers were born between 1946 and 1965. They still use pot….more so as they age.

          • Sorry I took so long to get back to you Emily. Syncing my new Nexus 7 with my PC wreaked havoc on my links. I don’t see any reference to a youth vote in his post. Only to the pothead vote and they generally run from the age of fifteen to ninety-nine.

          • No prob. He said ‘this demographic’ and I doubted he was referring to seniors. LOL

            Yeah potheads are any age….and you can get medicinal pot, altho I understand it’s pretty crappy.

            People can grow their own……just like they can make their own wine and beer…but it’s easier and qucker…..and far better quality….getting it from the store. It’ll be the same with pot.

      • Emily, the biggest pot smokers now are not boomers. They are our Canadian youth. Aren’t you reading any of the UN statistics saying what terrible/wonderful potheads Canadian kids are?

        • Yup, and they ignore the law because it’s old and outdated….but there are far more important election issues for them

          • What??? Young people don’t tend to vote and given that they are not having any problems smoking as much pot as they want to, I am not sure that this issue is going to bring them out to vote. Given what Colby has pointed out, the youth might end up paying more for lower quality cannabis than they can get now. What the Liberals are discussing is a marketing board for cannabis where only certain growers have permission and consumers are still arrested if they have too much product on hand. So cops will still wasting time and there is no free market. Not exactly the same rules that apply to wine.
            Further, Justin Trudeau’s deluded claim that legalization will keep pot out of the hands of kids has got to be having anyone with one iota of sense shaking their heads. Gawd knows no underage people in Canada are smoking cigarettes or using alcohol….cause it isn’t like you can get false ID or someone to bootleg for you. Hello???!!

          • They vote when it matters to them. Most people aren’t one issue voters ya know.

            And no, kids aren’t smoking or drinking like they used to…it’s much harder to get than you realize.

            In any case it isn’t 2015

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          • Look up “youth heavy drinking”. It is a study done in your own province of Ontario one year ago. It shows how prevalent the consumption of alcohol is among youth between the ages of 12 and 19 years old….the most widely used drug.
            Also, you can do some research into binge drinking among Canadian youth.

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          • You’re ignoring the fact that in recent polling, the biggest support for legalization is not among “youth” but among the 45-64 demographic.

          • It certainly is not a “youth issue”.

            Those aged 35-54 are the largest block of supporters for legalization. And unlike “youth” – that demographic actually votes (though still not as high a turnout percentage as seniors.)

            Those 55 and above, especially women, are on the border of support/oppose. By the time you get to those 70 and older, the opposition to legalization is still a majority viewpoint among either gender. The support/opposition among older Canadians has *dramatically* narrowed in the last decade as the “Greatest Generation” of the depression era has passed away. They were the ones most opposed to legalization.

            The inevitable demographic trend is that those who are older and opposed are rapidly dying off. While they are replaced as the Boomer generation ages, Boomers don’t magically become hostile to legalization as they age. They keep their support for legalization for the most part.

            And that’s the short explanation as why we are now at 57% nationally in favour or legalization. It’s a demographic trend that has the Prohibitionists painted into a statistical corner from which there is no escape.


          • You seem a little ageist.
            I am 58, and I am in favor of legalizing.

            The only people of my generation who didn’t smoke, were the wimps, who also were the ones who went to church, and didn’t have long hair back in the sixties.

            Heck, my 82 year old mother who had terminal cancer, and couldn’t stomach the heavy duty pain meds, found she only needed half the narcotics to control her pain, and that pot brought her enough relief ( or maybe the munchies) to enjoy food again after smoking pot, or eating brownies made with pot butter.
            She, and her group of senior friends who used to go to the casino together were all for legalizing it too.

            How many people take the elderly seriously enough to listen to their views on these subjects.
            Pot has been around for a very long time after all. Someone was smoking it back in the 1920s, when the devil weed campaign came out after all!

          • According to jazz historian Ken Burns, Louis Armstrong smoked pot almost every day of his adult life.

          • reefer madness is alive and well in your remarks

          • Yes, though the poster forgot the bit about it making you grow hair on your palms and turing you into a foaming at the mouth insane serial rapist.

          • you got issues. how long have you known you were “different”? Can we help ?

    • “Pandering to the pothead vote Justin? When does this demographic ever
      find time from indulging in the bong to ever make the long trip to the
      polling station?”

      I always found the time to vote… *cough* *cough* daaaaammmmnnn…. c8

      But on a serious note why don’t you think we inure the inevitable social consequences of alcohol prohibition in spite of all the consequences that result from its legalization? If anything prohibition made all of the social problems associated with alcohol worse. One interesting case study comes from Iran which actually punishes people with the death penalty for drinking alcohol but still has a massive… drinking problem.


      • Thanks for trotting out the standard inevitable social consequences/alcohol prohibition/legalizing weed/no harmful effects/unjust law etc…. again Phil. If you ever come up with anything original be sure to let me know as that line of attack has been hashed over at least a zillion times already.

        • “If you ever come up with anything original be sure to let me know as
          that line of attack has been hashed over at least a zillion times

          Because an argument is valid and hashed out dozens of times because it has been proven to be valid with empirical evidence makes it invalid? Interesting.

          You know, I don’t think I’ve dismissed an argument because people keep mentioning it and it’s correct. If anything that would make me reassess my own views.

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          • Yeah, people repeatedly mention the fact that cigarette smoking causes cancer, so obviously it doesn’t and making this point just shows how weak a point it is. Or something like that.

        • It’s worth repeating because it’s a strong argument. Prohibition doesn’t work.

      • Phil, you are missing Colby’s point. If you tax the crap out of cannabis and limit who can grow it for sale, etc. it will still be an ‘underground” industry likely run by a criminal element that will be essentially be a black market competing against the “legalized”, taxed version. It won’t change anything except that you can carry around a couple of joints that you purchased for way to much money at a “pot store”.

        • I was actually writing in response to the notion that prohibition is preferable to both Colby’s proposition and Trudeau’s proposition.

          I wouldn’t say that Colby’s thesis is entirely without merit but I do not believe that the underground economy that would still exist would be as bad as the current one that exists, domestically anyway. I don’t see as many problems stemming from an underground tobacco and alcohol economy here in Canada nor in the United States (as is well known the latter used to have a massive problem with organized crime during alcohol prohibition which started to dissipate to a large extent with its termination).

          If rational actor theory holds, why bother saving a few extra dollars and risk criminal repercussions by buying from someone illegally when you can legally purchase the same substance with assured quality and safety?

          • Good lord, do you think about what you write? Pot is not in any way more dangerous to health or society than alcohol or tobacco. If acohol and tobacco may be legally consumed, the so too should canibus.
            The issue of taxation and regulation should similarly be applied.

          • Right now all I’m hearing is ‘Trudeau’s plan is going to leave weed to heavily regulated and taxed ergo it will not kill the underground economy and the problems associated with it to a significant extent.’

            Alcohol and tobacco are both taxed and regulated and I don’t see any glaring problems from the illegal sale of such items despite Canada having one of the largest excise taxes on alcohol in the world for instance…


          • Yes but Canada does not stipulate who can be in the wine grape growing business or how much wine an individual can buy. According to Colby, the Liberal plan is to erect a marketing board like there is for dairy whereby, the Liberals only license certain producers to grow cannabis for sale and then restrict what a person of the age of consent can purchase from a licensed vendor. If you are caught with too much by the police, you will be sanctioned and a grower will be sanctioned. Is this really legalization? A person in Canada can make their own wine and beer. Of course, they must apply for a license to sell it but it isn’t reasonably withheld. That is why I believe people will be disenchanted with the whole legalization business, especially in BC. This is no real legalization….it is half-baked (pardon the pun).

          • nobody said anything about sanctionsyou are assuming stuff without any proof gro up

          • Did you read the article???? That is what the Liberal party wrote up as their plan for legalization?? What do you think they are going to do to growers that don’t have permission to grow and people who have too much “product”?

          • their plan is based on Washington state which btw has not allowed legal retail sales yet. once this happens prices will fall big time the liberal plan is gonna be adjusted accordingly. if its legal smaller gro ops will be forced to close

          • “Alcohol and tobacco are both taxed and regulated and I don’t see any glaring problems from the illegal sale of such items…”

            You are either blind or a damned fool then. The taxes on alcohol in Canada are high in comparison to the USA, but low in comparison to Europe. Canadians complain, but our turning to bootleggers for alcohol and beer has more to do with the time of day they are open to purchase it from, rather than the price.

            No glaring problems there? I’d agree with you. But that’s not the REAL STORY, is it? When the discussion moves to cigarettes, the story changes DRAMATICALLY.

            The trade in bootlegged cigarettes now comprises more them 25% of the national market. The value of bootlegged cigarettes sales is MASSIVE and in the **hundreds of millions** of dollars to organized crime. The money involved in illegal cigarettes lead DIRECTLY to the Oka crisis in the mid-90s. The heavily armed protesters on the Oka reserve were armed by — and in the employ of the smugglers (who provided machine guns to some of the protesters). The chief’s home at the Oka reserve was firebombed by the smugglers during the crisis. We deployed THE ARMY to deal with the resulting crisis. After Oka, Chretien saw what the black market trade had done to exacerbate the problem and the Federal Government instituted an immediate MASSIVE reduction in the excise tax on cigarettes in recognition that the problem they had created had mushroomed out of control.

            13 years later, by 2008, the governments had walked the taxes back up and organized crime returned with a vengeance. The Mob is now the principal seller of smuggled cigarettes in Toronto and Montreal, where they make up more than 33% of all cigarettes sold on the street of our country’s largest two cities. This market is worth $200,000,000.00 in profit a year to the Mob and people are getting killed over it, in public, on our city streets and College St. cafes. Truck drivers of cigarettes have been pulled over and hijacked across Canada — and some have been killed. Many more have been severely injured.

            But you don’t see any “glaring problems??” You are either blind or a fool. Pick one.

            If cannabis is to regulated and taxed and sold in a government liquor store, the taxes must be low enough to effectively wipe out the black market. Weed sold for fifty or sixty dollars an ounce in government liquor stores will probably effectively wipe out the overwhelming number of marijuana dealers who sell within Canada. How much of that is tax will be a result of the cost of the legal supply — and we don’t really know what they will prove to be as the market innovates and moves to legal growing, harvesting,processing and packaging methods.

            I think it is fair to say that it’s a moving target and one which the Federal and provincial governments will have to keep a close eye on. What we cannot allow is for cannabis to become the next cigarettes in terms of excise taxes. Then, the black market simply continues, wounded but still on its feet. That would do almost nothing at all to address the criminal problems created by prohibition.

          • bad argument and assunption chek out mmar .ca 30$ounces

          • Hey, the old conservatives might buy pot in the “pot store” for the jacked up prices (35% tax) but no one from BC will be buying it there when they can grow their own and make a little money on the side selling to their friends. Once is is “legalized”, do you honestly believe the Canadian taxpayer is going to want to see police out busting farmers who “don’t have permission” to grow and sell. That crap will go the way of the wheat board and rightly so. Who are the Liberals trying to kid. If you legalize pot, you better make it a free-market just like the wine industry is. Let’s not make it some protected market, like dairy in Canada. Who will stand for that?

          • Pot is not hard to cultivate. Industrial scale pot production may be cheaper than homebrew, even after a 35% excise tax. How many backyard stills do you see?

          • Andrew, anyone can grow pot. Distilling DRINKABLE liquor and growing tobacco are exponentially more difficult. You can’t even compare them.

          • he made a good point

          • Really? Why don’t you tell us where in Canada you can grow tobacco v. cannabis and then explain how easy it is to make drinkable hard alcohol?

          • mmar.ca i dont have to explain to you about alcohol cuz its not the issue

          • You don’t know what you’re talking about. Actually growing good, quality weed takes considerable effort and skill. It’s a competitive market out there.

          • We are talking about growing it outdoors, aren’t we? I am not suggesting it is easy to set up an indoor grow op.

          • See old toker’s post below. You don’t know what you are talking about.

          • A lot of folks have blown a lot of their money and time trying to grow good pot indoors. It is NOT easy. Crop failure is common amoung beginners.

          • I wasn’t talking about growing it indoors.

          • Even outdoors it can be quite tricky. One male or hermaphrodite and there goes the crop. Then there are rabbits, deer, disease, stupidity…
            And, truly, how many people grow their own tobacco or make their own wine and beer compared to those who purchase those products ready-made?

            Pot is everywhere and available to almost everyone. Legalizing reality is a no-brainer.

          • Low quality cannabis is not hard to cultivate — but top shelf cannabis and its derivatives IS difficult to grow and extract/manufacture consistently.

            Moreover, all outdoor grows share the same problem of a one month harvest period in Canada around mid-October. Without resorting to indoor growing, the supply is seasonal and must be stockpiled. Indoor growing is certainly a great deal more difficult. It’s not rocket science, true, but the suggestion this it is akin to dandelions magically appearing on your front lawn is a pile of crap.

          • bs. check out top shelf pot at 30 an oz mmar.ca the price will be even lower once competition starts

          • It is not possible to deliver indoor grown weed at $480 a pound profitably to the end user unless labour costs are at a minimum wage level and the product is grown in Quebec (cheapest electricity) and the sales volume is so high it’s at an industrial scale. On a grams per watt basis, the energy costs are simply too high.

            If there is somebody offering supposed “top shelf” weed for that price, it’s outdoor grown of iffy quality (not top shelf) — or FAR more likely, they are using the excess capacity allowed from somebody’s MMAR ATP grower’s limit designating them as a grower to then divert and sell a large volume of cannabis to the black market at ~$200-300 an ounce.

            You can get $30 an ounce weed if grown outdoors and harvested and processed mechanically — but not indoors unless your sales volume is off the chart. There is no operation in existence on that scale anywhere in the world.

          • btw the pots grown in greenhouses . Super Lemon Haze and other top strains . 30 an oz and thats making a profit without competition .you dont know as much as you think. next time look it up lest you make yourself appear foolish in the eyes of others

          • A greenhouse grow is not “indoor weed”. They are not paying for power for lights. Fair enough. It may very well be good quality — but no, not top shelf. I would agree that a greenhouse grow is probably the optimal place for a balance of cost v. quality. The major reason most people do not currently grow in greenhouses on a large scale is, of course, because it can be seen. Not an issue once it is legal — assuming there is proper security.

          • i smoked it and you are wrong. concentrates too you dont really know what yer talking about

          • Sounds like you’re agreeing with me. An industrial marijuana operation would obliterate small-scale producers on cost and quality even with a 35% excise tax. Marijuana production is subject to economies of scale.

          • To a degree, yes. To what scale or degree is as yet unknown, because we have not ever had a legal cannabis market where the Massey Fergusons, John Deeres and Case farm equipment manufacturers of the world have had an opportunity to apply industrial harvesting technology to cannabis buds.

            If there is a problem with large scale marijuana farming for recreational use, the chokepoint is in trimming and consistency of THC/CBD/CBN of the product.

            Right now, buds are hand trimmed and clipped. Whether it’s a gourmet presentation or a slap/dash trim job has a lot to do with the strain, the skill of the trimmer and the time they took to do the job. Essentially, trimming and weighing is a cottage industry approach to the job.

            An industrial grower/packager does not want to deliver a product like this. Measuring and selecting buds for packaging is a significant pain in the ass and takes too much time in terms of labour.

            Big business would prefer to trim via automated machine and either pre-grind the product for packaging in cigarette form – or alternatively, process it into Ice hash — or more likely — BHO on an industrial scale. BHO takes far less room and weight to ship and stock, can be processed on a large industrial scale, and can be fine-tuned for overall blended consistency and highly accurate measurements of psychoactive ingredients.

            Of the available processing methods, large scale BHO is the most promising to Big Business. I don’t expect anybody really wants to hear that — but other than packaging via cigarette form, that’s the natural path for cannabis when packaged and sold by Big Business.

            For all of the above reasons, given their druthers, Big Business would prefer to grow and process BHO to deliver to the end customer. It’s just the most efficient form of the product for recreational use. It also can be added to butter for inclusion in edibles most easily. It’s the most readily adaptable form of the product.

            I suppose that industrial chemists if given a R&D budget and sufficient time would probably come up with other methods even more efficient than Butane extraction. Whatever the case, honey oil extracted from the whole plant is what they would prefer to deliver.

          • I would add, however, that there would always be a place for “gourmet” growers. Their product would be more expensive, but could offer different strains, phenotypes, tastes, and presentation options. In particular, organic whole bud would always have a market — but it would be a niche market, much like a craft beer.

            The broad mass of the market would be buying the “Molson Canadian” pre-ground cigarettes or BHO extract variant.

          • you can get early crops using light deprivation and winter crops for pennies in an insulated greenhouse top shelf too . its not hard whan you “really” know what our doimg plus lot of folks are available to make dabs

          • How is growing cannabis in Canada any different than growing cereal crops?

          • you are hell bent at making bad assumptions once its legal the cops wont be busting anybody and no one says 35 % taxes either Trudeau never said any of that

          • It is all in Colby’s article. Apparently, he read the Liberal’s plan and you didn’t.

          • the plan is not here yet and is loosley based on Washington state .once prices stabilizethere the anticipated tax base will not be there and will have to be rethought

          • I would agree, but the problem is that if we do not exert controls on domestic growers, we will run the risk of antagonizing the Americans past the point of wisdom.

            If cannabis is legal as well in America (and within 12 years, that will probably happen) than the matter changes dramatically to a free market in terms of supply (with a residual monopoly existing on sales, very much like liquor). However, prior to that, we are going to have to walk a fine line due to American concerns.

            It’s an imperfect solution in an imperfect market distorted by concerns of legalities, both at home and abroad.

          • How many illegal stills have you heard of being busted in the news lately? How many grow ops?

          • EXACTLY.
            According to this sort of “logic”, nobody should want to visit a coffeeshop in Amsterdam and buy legal weed and hash there, because maybe you can get cheaper stuff from some dodgy dealer in the back alley. It’s a bogus argument. Proven by the fact that gazillions of people flock to Amsterdam to visit those very coffeeshops.

        • the price will go down and put the black market out of business. look at California and Colorado. you fail at economics

          • You are discussing the US. We are talking about Canadian taxes. You fail at recognizing what country you live in.

          • theres competition in any business you are still wrong

      • pot and alcohol are 2 dif. things its been proven that youth consumption goes down where it been legalized

    • Yeah why would somebody spend that kind of money to listen Trudeau speak? What forced them to do that? I could see a conservative doing something that dumb and then turning around and whining about it.

      • trudeau hater

    • There’s the pothead vote, and then there’s the educated liberal vote, the one that sees the broader socio-economic costs and forgone benefits of pot prohibition and would like things to change in that regard.

  3. Big problem is Ontario and our dour presbyterian tendencies. Ontario controls alcohol to a great degree, we don’t have much of an evening culture, everything happens between 9 and 5 and then expected to go home and be good.

    Many educated, smart people would be employed in beer, spirits, wine and ganja industries and I bet our cultural offerings would improve as well. If Canadians added a little funk to our brains, we would have a more interesting country.

    • This comment was deleted.

    • You just described Toronto and the GTA, not Ontario.

  4. Trans Cannibis Trail ?

    • Oh wow! Perfect marketing – Canada – Cannabis – that Canadian flag with the marijuana leaf in the middle! I can just see the ads.

  5. I know ! … A Marijuana Marketing Board !

    If only to see punditi ears make like Old Faithful …

  6. I sit here reading this and wondering exactly who metropika is trolling for? Can it be the liquor industry, which would take a huge hit, or big pharma which would see likely a 50% reduction in antidepressant sales nation wide? Could it be the old anti-hemp lobby, pulp and paper and cotton?

    Macleans published an article 20 years ago, showing that 100 acres of hemp produced more ‘wood pulp fiber’ than 400 acres of trees, and can be produced yearly. And, that old pair of Levi jeans from the late 1800s that sold at auction in Chicago 20-30 years ago… they weren’t made of cotton.

    The anti-marijuana conspiracy has provided many jobs in law enforcement due to the great headlines of grossly overvalued busts of harmless pot growers, and it is much more safe than busting meth labs.

    The policy has criminalized hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Has anyone noticed any reduction in availability?

    I am with you on this one Colby, the Canadian government wastes hundreds of millions of dollars every year exploiting this stupid law for headlines and funding, and incarcerating many useful and productive citizens.

    • That’s very kind, but I’d like to make it clear I’m not signing up for the “Non-Smokeable Hemp: Industry of the Future” stuff.

      • hemp could be a cheap supplier of cannabidiol a non psycho active effective medicine. it could supply fuel and building material, paper better clothing, hemp seeds for healthy Canadians etc. i suggest you research before coming to any conclusions ive done over 4 years of research and disagree with most of your article . just saying

    • Yes but as Colby pointed out, this “legalization” plan by the Liberals will still be run like a marketing board and the police will still be busy arresting people who don’t have “permission’ to grow cannabis or people who are carrying too much cannabis. How is that any kind of enlightenment. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau’s running around claiming, legalization will keep it out of the hands of kids. He is crazy? Are alcohol and tobacco “out of the hands of kids?” Hello!!!

      • Uh, well, is marijuana out of the hands of kids? Seems like an obvious question.

        • According to the UN, our youth smoke a lot of cannabis. They seem to like it. They also use alcohol quite heavily even though it is ‘regulated’. I cannot see how regulating cannabis will make it any more difficult for people underage to access it.

          • Awesome! Prohibition is working!

          • No, it isn’t but legalization won’t be any better so if Mr. Trudeau wants to legalize cannabis to keep it away from kids, he is misguided.

          • It might not be any better, but try asking a 15 year old what’s harder for a teenager to get their hands on, a joint, or a cigarette?

          • alcohols harder for kids to get cuz its regulated .same as pot in legal dispensaries .illegal dealers will be out of business

        • if its sold in regulated stores like alcohol then its harder for kids to access and illegal dealers will be out of business .do the research . this is common knowledge

      • “How is that any kind of enlightenment?” You asked. It isn’t.

      • police dont need to arrest anyone once its legal the price will drop so low that there wont be any need to. your logic is flawed

        • Police arrested farmers who didn’t sell their wheat through the wheat board. You think they won’t arrest people who have more than the allotted amount of cannabis? What exactly are you basing the rationale behind your assertions on?

          • are they gonna go door to door looking for it when it is legal? yer kidding right ? lolol

          • Are they going door to door now?

          • they wont go door to door for a non crime

          • Do you not understand that if they institute their “trial plan”, it will be a crime to grow too much or have to much cannabis in your possession? That is what this article is saying.

          • im saying if its legal the cops will have bigger fish to fry

      • Marijuana is already in the hands of kids. Some in elementary school are already buying it – by the time they’re 12 most kids know about it and a lot know who to buy it from. Dealers don’t ask for ID, but stores that sell tobacco and alcohol do. Sure, that doesn’t keep it 100% out of the hands of kids, but it’s a lot better than what we have now. Most (not all) kids don’t do a whole lot of drinking before their mid teens – an occasional party, someone’s older sibling buys it for them. It’s a lot more difficult than just dropping into the park, or calling up your buddy.

        Make it cheap – really cheap. The gangs won’t touch it if there’s no profit for them. Folks won’t even grow their own if you can just head over the corner store. And don’t forget non-smokers. A whole line of brownies, banana bread, chocolates and other goodies is another mostly unexplored market.

    • Cleargreen,
      Although you tried hard to employ every tired, worn-out cliche, that the stoners like to use in their arguments to support the movement, you did manage to miss a few. I’m an old hippie, a survivor of the counter culture of the late 60’s and early 70’s, whose mantra was ‘Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll.’ I saw more people smoking grass in my time than you’ll ever dream of being able to witness in yours. Were you at Woodstock? If you were you’d have seen the mountains of garbage left behind by the tokers too lazy to pick up after themselves.
      I’ve seen what drugs of all types do to people. I’ve even written on the subject of substance abuse and its long term effects. There are plenty of people who can’t go a day without smoking up. They find doctors who’ll write them up a phony subscription for medical marijuana when they can’t get any from their neighbourhood dealer. Although I’d like to say that times have changed since then, the reality is that they haven’t. People still use it as a crutch, a substitute for being engaged. They expose small children to it. They smoke up around their kids. They just don’t give a damn and nothing you can say will stop them. I’ve never met a stoner who could carry on a conversation without referencing the subject sooner or later. One track minds. Dope is for dopes. End of story.

      • you got issues ,and im an older pot user and on every count you are categorically wrong. i dont know any parents as irresponsible as you let on .dope is hard drugs only. an older person should know that. the Pusher Man by Steppenwolf explains that

        • It’s easy to see what pot has done to your grasp of the English language I’ve seen lots of dopey derelicts like you. The remnants of that time when everyone thought that pot didn’t have any long term side effects. Sure. Of course. Whatever you say.

          • Yes, one guy on the internet makes typos, and that’s definitive proof that all pot users are brain damaged. Your arguments just get better and better.

          • Typos? LOL. That’s pure unadulterated brain damage.

          • Yes, you’ve definitively proven that all marijuana users are jibbering, brain-damaged idiots. I mean, look at all of the pro-marijuana posts on here — they’re all completely incoherent, the product of obvious clinical brain damage. Like, is that the best you’ve got?

          • No there’s lots more but the stoners can’t handle too much reality at any one time.

          • i resent no nothing. spelling nazis saying mean things about me . maybe metro has got big problems

          • Wow! What drivel you spew metropika. I’m sitting in the backyard of my half-million dollar paid-for home, enjoying the good life, having the odd toke on my pipe and feeling so sorry for you. You really do have issues, hope you work them out before you hurt yourself or others.

          • Always notice all the internet tokers are millionaires with big homes and many stoners in the real world are working in fast food living in bachelor apartments. Why the big difference?

          • I only mentioned my economic status because it flies in the face of the idiotic stereotype of the “stoner”, a term I despise, by the way. Life isn’t a Cheech and Chong movie and most folks who use cannabis are no different than most folks who enjoy a drink after dinner. By the way, I don’t use alcohol or nicotine, to me they are dangerous drugs. But I wouldn’t try to prohibit either. Prohibition causes far more problems than it attempts to cure.

          • Know many who have been smoking weed for 40 years without incident and have good jobs but aren’t bragging on the internet. Seems you have the problem with the stereotype not me. Read my comment I said many stoners not all stoners

          • If you’ll notice, my friend, I was replying to someone else with my original comment, someone who was using a derogatory term designed to denigrate and demonize cannabis users. And my reply to you explained why I mentioned economic status – to refute his stereotype. Glad you know the truth about cannabis users. We have no argument here.
            By the way, it’s a beautiful, sunny day here on southern Vancouver Island. The moat is full. :-)

          • I didn’t realize that Paul McCartney worked at Burger King and lived in a dump. Who knew?

          • Two up on you

          • no need to get snippy. you might wann think about anger management .then you could be happy

  7. Colby, I wanted to ask you something. Do you really think only “crappy parents’ kids hot knifed hash?” If so, I’ll have to disagree with you on that one. Even some of the best parents’ kids raise some hell sometimes.

    • Quite right. I acknowledged that earlier in the piece. It should probably read “If you’re a crappy parent, or even a pretty good one…”.

  8. Despite what people might like to think, life under legal marijuana would not please anybody for long. The cigarette companies would dominate the market to control price, supply, and demand. The ‘cottage industry’ doing so well in small towns everywhere will find life tough competing with the ‘big guys.’ It will be a lot like television; try starting your own cable company in your garage.

    Like wine, beer, and spirits, the government will regulate all aspects of production, distribution, and supply. They would be unable to pass up the huge revenue stream that legal marijuana would surely create. Growers would be licensed to ensure the highest quality in the interest of public safety. Only licensed growers would be permitted to market their product. This would keep small fry penned up in corn fields and huddled in attics.

    Soon growers would long for the ‘old days’ when the seeds were nearly free. You’d think catalogues would flourish and stores would pop up like coffee shops on every corner, but the big boys will ensure that the industry is controlled and open to a select few.

    Drug laws would proliferate in an effort to control the business. Drug seizures would skyrocket, more police would be hired to do it, and there would be lots of money to pay them.

    To suppress the unlicensed ‘small growers,’ governments would allow search and seizure without warrant, even for residences. Penalties would be increased to discourage individual growers. To control social problems, like impaired driving, police will be provided with extra powers, like mandatory blood tests on demand.

    Today, the market sets prices. Today, distribution rests with entrepreneurs. Today, small growers are drivers in the market. Today, cops don’t focus on individual users in an effort to catch traffickers. Legalisation will change all of it.

    Look, I have nothing against Trudeau. I like the guy, but you know he will say whatever he must to win. He’s a politician like any other. The real question is this; what will he REALLY DO if he wins?

    • You are probably right in the way that tobacco companies would be set up to plant and harvest in a big way. They also have the production facilities for turning out the mass produced “joints”.
      Your comments and Colby’s article outlining the restrictions that the Liberals are already contemplating are sobering.

      • I think legalisation will trade one set of problems for another. And I doubt that Trudeau will do more than decriminalise it. He is proposing this in a rather obvious hook for 18-35 year olds whom he desperately needs to vote for him. That’s what politicians do; they say anything to win, but what they do in office is something else again.

        • we get it. you dont like Trudeau

          • I like him. And I liked his father when he was PM.

          • your statements show that you dont

          • The only time I voted Liberal was to elect Pierre Trudeau. If Justin wins, he will find that he cannot ‘change the way politics is done in Ottawa,’ not because he wouldn’t try, because it can’t be done. Politicians, even the Trudeau family, cannot do the impossible. I would never hold any politician to the impossible.

            Politics is an amoral environment. Justin is earnest, honest, amiable, and capable. If he survives, his success will have little to do with values, and more to do with expediency.

          • i call them as i see them .you saying hes pandering for the vote is not trudeau friendly and based on conjecture

          • He needs the 18-35 year olds to turn out for him on election day. In fact, all of the leaders need that. If he wasn’t aware of this, he would be stupid. He isn’t stupid.

            A politician thinks about winning and learns to say and do what helps his cause. That is true for anyone in the game. It would be silly to hold that against him or any other politician.

          • so ?

          • next time leave “desperate “out of the conversation . its insulting and proves my point judging by the polls the competition is desperate

          • I haven’t used the word ‘desperate.’ Perhaps marijuana slows one’s ability to read.

          • ok desperately then if u wanna nitpik .same meaning perhaps heroin inhibits your abilitys too, pal lol keep it real

        • The popularity of legalization in Canada is slightly HIGHER among those aged 35-54 than it is among those aged 18-34.

          This is a point worth restating as a large number of people on the internet this past week have been treating this as a “youth issue”. It’s not. The support for legalization is widespread in Canada, highest in the Atlantic Provinces, and greatest among males aged 35-54. By the looks of your picture, you are the target demographic, not the 18 yr old kid down the street. It’s important that you understand the way demographics affects this issue, because it is the key in understanding why this battle is happening NOW.

          Legalization is particularly important in the lower mainland of BC. Given the close three way race in that area, the Liberals expect that this issue may give them a significant electoral advantage over the NDP and CPC. It’s no accident that Trudeau made his announcement in Kelowna, which is ground zero in BC’s cannabis trade and gang violence.

          Trudeau is undoubtedly right that it will earn him more votes than it will cost — most especially in BC.

          But above all, we have national support for cannabis legalization at 57%. It is a rapidly evolving and ever increasing statistic which will continue to markedly increase over the next ten years for the very good reason that people who are most likely to be against it are older. They are not against it *because* they are older, but because they do not have personal experience with cannabis due to the times in which they were born and raised. It was a different world.

          The graduating class of 1953 reports a lifetime occurrence of ever having tried cannabis even ONCE during their lifetime of only 8.5%. By the time you skip ahead to the graduating class of 1973, that incidence rises to 50%. From 1-in-12 to 1-in-2 in a space of 20 years.

          The generational gap in personal experience with marijuana is PROFOUND and sharp. And those for whom “no personal experience” was the default response are now vanishing from the country. They are dying of old age — RAPIDLY. Because age correlation is based upon past experience and not age per se, they are not getting replaced as generations age. They are simply dying off at a startling rate.

          This is important because those who do have personal experience with cannabis are **remarkably** unpersuaded by FEAR and Reefer Madness/ Gateway Drug arguments. They tend to be in favour of legalization. The correlation is VERY strong.

          The graduating class of 1953 is now 78 – and a lot of them are dead, In ten years time, the VAST majority of them will be dead. Dead people don’t vote and they don’t get counted in national opinion polls, either.

          Legalization of cannabis is a demographic train whose arrival has been long predicted. It’s a train that cannot be avoided. This political battle has been predicted for years and the tipping point has ALSO been predicted for years. The train is arriving on schedule.

          This battle was over before it began. It’s not about the 18 yr old kid down the street, its about the 45 year old on the internet and the Octogenarian in the nursing home who passed away last week. Only two of those three people are now left to vote.

          It’s over.

          • Great post.

      • geffory is living in a fantasy world. ive heard those arguments before. thats just speculation based on nothing tangible . big tobbacco never did that in Cali. or Colorado nothings been set in stone yet and regulations are up for grabs

        • In Canada, if legalised, marijuana would be legal in every part of the country. The U.S. doesn’t have a large legal market, yet.

          • big tobbacco has not showed its face yet no self respecting pot user would support it if it did

          • You are naive if you think there isn’t an interest, waiting to see what the future brings.

          • you are right ,but dont assume theyll take over

          • Actually, groups of small growers may have sufficient investment to form larger companies. Without the organization of large companies, the price of the product would fall as too much supply enters the market. Depressed prices are not fun, as any farmer will confess.

            To control prices, the market will be controlled by ensuring that only specific, measured amounts of product enter the retail chain. Too many small growers will make this difficult, unless licensed and unlicensed growers have different access.

            Today, there is much less of this kind of supply/demand manipulation.

          • this has yet to be hashed out .i believe well find that the price will fall so low no one will get rich off of it

          • Yes, maybe so, growers may find that life now, while it is illegal, is more lucrative. Today, nobody needs to control the market, but if it is legal, that will change.

          • Colorado and Washington: that’s 12 million people right there, more than Portugal or Belgium. Not a large market?

    • the big tobbacco companies argument is nonsense .no one would buy from them drug laws would proliferate! lolol not if its legal. how much real thinking do you do?

    • Driving under the influence of marijuana has been a criminal offence in Canada since 1925.

      The Police ALREADY have mandatory blood tests on demand for drivers and have had that power for many years. Indeed, that power to demand blood samples was expanded in 2008. Nevertheless, driving while under the influence of marijuana is less than 2% of all DUI cases in Canada. And most of those ALSO involve alcohol as well.

      Alcohol increases risk-taking on the part of whose who drink; cannabis has the opposite effect. It’s been verified in a number of scientific studies. Drunks speed, stoners drive slower.

      Millions of Canadians ALREADY smoke marijuana every month and some of those are on the roads and highways. They’ve been on the road with you all your life. It isn’t a public safety crisis like alcohol is, because cannabis has a different psychoactive effect on the brain and nervous system.

      I am not saying that driving under the influence of cannabis should be legal, but it is clearly not a big issue or significant public safety concern. If it was – we would already have ample evidence of it on our roads every day. We simply don’t.

      Look to the evidence we have gathered over the past 88 years in the real world — not baseless FEAR.

      • You might benefit by reading the Criminal Code sections concerning the seizure of blood from an accused, on demand, and under what conditions that is correct procedure.

        • point is pot by itself has never caused even 1 traffic fatality . im offering you and anybody else 1000 cash if you can prove in wrong

          • I am confident that turning on the stereo, talking with passengers, reaching to the back seat to deal with a child, lighting a cigarette, or a joint, have been sufficient distraction to cause an accident, whether or not they resulted in injuries or death.

            I would be most reluctant to say ‘never.’

          • you want the money prove im wrong . lots have tried

          • Perhaps so.

          • and not 1 person has ever died from pot as unlikely as this sounds it true

          • And you can’t count the motor vehicle accident caused when a driver dropped his joint in his lap, which startled him enough to lose control and leave the roadway into a bridge abutment causing his motor vehicle to burst into flames, burning all the occupants before help could arrive. The bridge abutment killed the driver, not the dope, right?

          • That’s not true. I saw the Big Lebowski, and it didn’t end like that.

          • your fantasys dont count . lol thanx for the chuckle tho

    • Regulations,Regulations,Regulations sounds like the Long Gun Registy. That worked out real well didn’t it?

  9. Unlike booze, which requires skill, pot takes minimal effort to produce. Thus all talk of regulating it or apportioning it or taxing it is pretty much ridiculous. You wouldn’t be able to tax booze the way we do (i.e. with INSANELY HIGH TAXES) if you could make good gin yourself; not to mention the fact that flavour is really not a factor with pot, and whatever strain you grow produces the THC you are looking for. And it doesn’t take very much to get you quite high, so an ordinary smoker hardly needs more than a plant or two for himself, maybe one for guests.

    So legalisation + taxation-regulation is just fantasy. It would not take long for this to become very clear, at which point the writer’s Stoner Economy can kick into gear. But — and I feel bad refuting your 2000 fine words with just two — baby steps.

    • The problem is this; once a legal product, it has to be produced to specific standards in the interest of public safety. It can’t be cut with anything and the purity will be monitored so that it meets a legislated standard. To do this, a licensing system would be used. Legalisation will involve regulation and regular inspection. You may think it’s just a stroke of a pen, but you’d be wrong.

      • What harm to public safety and health has completely unregulated marijuana caused? People dropping like flies from adulterated J-bones, are they?

        • Permit me to quote a friend, “supreme apathy and addle brain which cohabit in the user.”

          • You’re saying pure, unadulterated THC doesn’t have that effect? You were arguing a minute ago for a safety standard, not that pot makes people potheads.

          • I am saying that “pure, unadulterated THC” may have that result and others and substances used to cut it may have risks too. The government may find itself in an awkward position as it ensures that everyone’s buzz is a pure, authentic, safe buzz.

            If it happens, legalisation will come with a price. There will be intended consequences and unintended consequences that everyone will have to accept.

          • “Substances used to cut it?” You are misinformed sir.

            Nobody laces marijuana with anything — and **nobody ever has**. It is an urban myth. It originates from the 60s and 70s when the vast majority of marijuana was low grade, 2%-4% THC content weed. What would now be referred to as low grade, “downtown brown” or “ditch weed”. Then, as now, there was still high quality, high THC, high CBD/CBN weed. Columbian, Malawi, and Acapulco “gold” are prominent examples. Thai stick would be another. These were the names associated with the powerful strains at the time. All of them were relatively rare at the time, too. Most people never had it and smoked the cheap stuff in relatively large joints to compensate.

            Along with the iconic strains, many other strains developed at the time, some deliberately and many more by accident. Some of them were quite potent, too.

            When average people first encountered a potent strain grown without seeds, they simply didn’t know it and smoked as much of it as they normally had of their low grade marijuana. The resulting psychoactive effect was, accordingly, quite pronounced. It’s like filling up a 20 oz beer glass with Bailey’s — expecting the effect to be the same as 5% beer. Obviously, that’s not what is going to happen to you if you down 20 oz of Bailey’s in five minutes. But when the drinker doesn’t know any better, that’s when trouble hits.

            Some users believed that because the effect was obviously more intense, the weed had to have been “laced” with something. It NEVER, EVER, was. It was just good weed and they probably should have smoked less of it. But they simply didn’t know any better.

            You are talking about urban myths as if they were true. They are not and never were.

          • Cigarettes have been laced with ammonia to intensify the addictive qualities of tobacco. Cigarette companies were forced to admit it. Don’t assume that because it hasn’t happened with marijuana, that it can’t happen.

          • Amonia was used by RJR as an additive compound to help deliver nicotine to the brain faster. It doesn’t work with THC/CBD/CBN.

            They put a worm in the bottom of a bottle of mescal, too. Should we be worried about THAT with cannabis, too?

            You are entitled to your opinion Mr. Brittan. My concern is that you are forming your views, thoughts and beliefs based upon assumptions which are false. The problem is, you BELIEVE them to be TRUE. So you aren’t cautious about what you say and believe, and you do not appear to understand that much of your “knowledge base” is incorrect.

            It’s okay to form and express an opinion. However, when you believe things to be true which simply are not — and you build upon those false assumptions expecting your foundation to be solid — you are going to end up with a shaky house of cards.

            We don’t need another exercise in forming drug policy where ideology and false assumptions lay the foundation of our policy. It’s precisely that sort of nonsense and hubris which got us here in the first place.

          • I doubt that ammonia would be used. The point I was making is that once legal the government will have to ensure that the product is safe if it is intended for public distribution and sale.

          • We do not do this with other food products or alcohol or even tobacco. In some limited circumstances, we say what food must NOT contain.

            Only when it comes to those foods which during processing can habitually become contaminated with bacteria (or some viruses or fungi) do we take the step of inspections. We inspect meat, fish and poultry for this reason. We had milk sickness which killed people in the 19th century — so we have a tradition of inspecting dairy products, too.

            But otherwise, when it comes to regulation, we largely stay out of it and rely upon the courts and consumer complaints to deal with problems of consumables in the marketplace.

            We certainly do know that when the Government of Canada undertook to distribute medical marijuana to patients — they never bother to make those tests themselves and put it on the packaging. Why would the government now demand something more from a private grower that it would not bother to do itself? At the least, you must admit that seems incongruous.

            The CPC has removed the requirement to list calories and other nutritional information from a whole host of processed foods, but when it comes to maryjane — suddenly it’s nanny state time again? Really?? All in the name of “public health”?

            There is no reason — no reason at all — to depart from the general model concerning most consumables with cannabis. If a substance should be banned and not be present (pesticides and herbicides are the main culprits here), ban it. Otherwise. leave it be and let the market set itself before making adjustments.

            The primary concern would be with listing THC content per volume on the packaging, so that people would know what they are getting so they could titrate their dosage in some manner which seems best to them. As it turns out, MMJ sold in California already does this, as consumers want to know.

            My point: It isn’t likely that government intervention is required here and all the evidence so far in semi-legal markets indicates that it is not required.

          • My point: government intervention isn’t required as long as it stays illegal. Once legal, the position of the government will change.

          • So the Government of Canada, through Health Canada and Prairie Medical, sells LEGAL medical marijuana to citizens and does not take these steps. And this is in connection with medicine used by patients with chronic pain, seizures, MS, HIV, and end of life care. So even though Health Canada won’t do it now for its own medicine, but suddenly, it’s necessary for a consumer good grown by somebody else?

            You are just *making it up as you go along now*, Mr. Brittan.

          • In the case of medical use, there may be “steps,” taken by the government that would have to be broadened, if legalisation takes place. You are assuming that the government does nothing today to verify the quality and authenticity of the product..

          • they forced it to be tested in mass.and cali. this trend will expand

          • Right, like they do our meat. Nobody’s ever died from smoking pot.

          • Grass was regularly doped by street dealers with chemical solvents used to process color film back in the 70’s. It was so potent that it could turn plain oregano into a powerful hallucinogenic.

        • You don’t have to kill anybody to harm public health, of course. A Jamaican friend won’t touch the stuff after seeing all the burn-outs in the townships when he was a kid. I’ve got lots of acquaintances who were promising, smart kids in school but never amounted to much of anything as adults. There appears to be a correlation with being potheads, although clearly that’s not the only plausible explanation for the outcome. I’m concerned about the potential for unanticipated consequences with legalization. When something’s cheaper and legal, people tend to use more of it. There were alcoholics under prohibition, there are stoners under the current drug laws. I’m just wondering how many more we’ll see, and what the net effect will be on society. For example, it’s estimated that much of the gain in IQ in North America over the past few decades has been due to the discontinuation of tetraethyl lead in gas – what are the implications if we reverse the trend with increased marijuana consumption?

          • paul Mc Cartny and steve jobs and losers like then never amounted to anything right ? your arguments are based on reefer madness not common sense

          • The first thing to do is exclude musicians, artists, and actors from the list – Charlie Parker performed while high on heroin, for crying out loud, although he was the first to point out that he always performed better when clean. Second, we’re talking about a statistical distribution here, not individual people. The individuals on the far tail of the distribution are pretty rare compared to the number of average people. You’re always going to find people who are apparently exceptions to a generalization. You haven’t addressed the question of what it means to society if on average, everybody is dulled slightly due to chronic pot use. To cite your Steve Jobs example, you might also look at other industrialists and technological geniuses – is Steve Jobs the rule or the exception? What about Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, or Meg Whitman, to start? How about Stephen Hawking or Richard Feynmann?

          • too many exceptions to the argument you are trying to support and you have 0 proof that people will be “dulled”! lol cite your sources

          • You could do a Wikipedia search as easily as I can (but ironically considering the discussion, you didn’t.) Here are a few references. Research is on-going, but it’s fairly clear that there’s a short term impact on memory and cognition, and there is evidence to suggest long-term impacts as well. The debate on long-term impacts often revolves on whether it’s resolvable by stopping use.

            Hart CL, van Gorp W, Haney M, Foltin RW, Fischman MW. (Nov. 2001). “Effects of Acute Smoked Marijuana on Complex Cognitive Performance”.Neuropsychopharmacology 25 (5): 757–65

            Lyketsos CG, Garrett E, Liang KY, Anthony JC. (1999), “Cannabis Use and Cognitive Decline in Persons under 65 Years of Age”, Am. J. Epidemiol.149 (9): 794–800, PMID 10221315

            Yücel, M.; Solowij, N.; Respondek, C.; Whittle, S.; Fornito, A.; Pantelis, C.; Lubman, D. I. (2008). “Regional Brain Abnormalities Associated with Long-term Heavy Cannabis Use”. Archives of General Psychiatry 65 (6): 694–701.doi:10.1001/archpsyc.65.6.694. PMID 18519827.

            Meier, M. H.; Caspi, A.; Ambler, A.; Harrington, H.; Houts, R.; Keefe, R. S. E.; McDonald, K.; Ward, A. et al. (2012). “PNAS Plus: Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (40): E2657.

            The funny thing about this is that I’m not even arguing against legalization, just that there’s an element of public health risk that’s not properly understood. The best reason for legalization is that it’s not going to kill anybody, and the current regime of prohibition in the context of widespread public use only brings the law into disrepute. As far as public health goes, the better approach has always been education and other disincentives, not prohibition.

          • there’s short term inpact for an hour or two. ive done reseach for over 4 years .the US govt has been trying to prove pot causes harm. if it did it would be front page news . they tried to prove it caused cancer than quashed the study when they found out it prevented it. they hold 2 patents on pot and its considered a neuro protectant

          • “The funny thing about this is that I’m not even arguing against legalization, just that there’s an element of public health risk that’s not properly understood. The best reason for legalization is that it’s not going to kill anybody, and the current regime of prohibition in the context of widespread public use only brings the law into disrepute. As far as public health goes, the better approach has always been education and other disincentives, not prohibition.”

            Well said. Thank you.

          • “For example, it’s estimated that much of the gain in IQ in North
            America over the past few decades has been due to the discontinuation of
            tetraethyl lead in gas”
            Is that why fools huff the stuff? To get smarter?

            And what’s your source? Harper’s oil patch promoting propaganda?

          • Tetraethyl lead was a widely used gas additive until the early’80s. It was banned because of concerns that the lead emissions were impacting public health. People have linked that bam to a decrease in crime rate and increase in measured IQ: Reyes, J. W. (2007). “The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime”. National Bureau of Economic Research. “a” ref citing Pirkle, Brody, et. al (1994). Retrieved August 17, 2009.

            This doesn’t relate to huffing gas, and it certainly isn’t oil patch propaganda.

          • I’ve also heard the drop in crime rate is due to birth control and legal abortions (fewer unwanted kids with neglectful parents), our aging population (fewer young people – they are most likely to misbehave), maybe it’s obesity (fat people can’t run away from cops), or maybe the gazillions of different pesticides, additives and chemicals in our environment are contributing factors – either alone or in combination. Who knows, maybe the increase in smoking marijuana is causing the drop in crime rate.

            There’s no way to study any of this stuff in isolation any more.

    • Considering the number of people I see in my neighborhood who can’t even manage to get a tomato plant to thrive, I don’t see home-growing pot to be a big starter. Making beer or wine actually isn’t all that hard, either – it’s the quality control that becomes a problem (i.e. foul-tasting product.) The result has been a proliferation of U-Brew places where people “brew” to the extent of tossing a packet of yeast into the wort and leave the rest to the owner of the facility. Probably the same deal with cannabis cultivation – attention needed to get the best yield and potency, best done by somebody who’s an expert. Mind you, my vegetable garden is pretty successful – maybe there’ll be a business opportunity for me with legalization.

      • If tomatoes could get you high, there’d be few neglected tomato plants. The ratio of effort required for even terrible homemade beer (or U-Brew beer) to how drunk you can get off it is way higher than for pot. Marijuana is a weed: it just needs sun and water. All you’re paying for today is the cost of risk in growing and distributing it. If it’s legal, there will be no market.

  10. It is refreshing to hear a political leader trying to cut the corporate chains that control his strings. If the corporate shareholders do not get the maximum profits from their investments, looting and pillaging everything and every citizen in the world, they will spent countless billions to smear and belittle whoever stands in their way. Legalization will cut into the profits from the black market which I believe is supplied initially by the filthy rich foreign corporate investors. Who owns the jets, the ships, the trucking companies that distribute drugs throughout the world? Who can afford the multi-millions needed to buy drugs from the Drug-Lords? Certainly not the homeless addict on the street ! ! Who has the clout to influence gov’t agents and buy them off to look the other way or not check certain containers being imported into countries? Certainly Not the poor guy with a small home grow-op ! ! Harper is trying to set up corporate control of the production and distribution of cannabis. All his agenda is to turn Canada into a third-world feudal state owned by the filthy-rich foreign investor, which no citizen will have any say about anything because everything will be privately owned. That is why he is rushing to finalize the trade deal with the EU in secret, so that corporate profit will override any local laws and regulations. Citizens will have to pay corporate investors for profit losses—the NEW Harper Canada—profit for the few, democracy be damned ! ! Concern for the Health of the citizens is NOT what brought about prohibition. It has ALL to do with WHO is making ALL the profits. There is no concern about health when the foods we buy at the supermarkets are full of pesticides and herbicides and poisonous chemicals and antibiotics and growth hormones and GMOs. No wonder people are so sick with so many new diseases—humans cannot tolerate all those poisons. Better get cannabis legalized quickly before Monsanto genetically modifies the seed so that just anybody would not be able to grow it, only those that pay for the right chemicals that will allow the seeds to germinate—GMO cannabis—sounds like CRAP to me. I hope Trudeau succeeds and a free market can exist—free from political control and police harassment.

    • There are no free markets for anything anywhere. Police ‘harassment’ will always be with us because there will always be individuals anxious to circumvent the rules for profit. You are looking for Utopia. If you find it, give the rest of us the address.

      • you are making some very valid points in this discussion.

    • Monsanto wouldn’t touch marijuana. It’s a competitor for them. Marijuana attracts certain kinds of insects and repels others. About 20 years ago a friend’s grandparents got a visit from the RCMP because they had some marijuana plants in their garden. They didn’t know what it was called, it was growing wild, but they had fewer bugs attacking their tomatoes so they let it grow.

  11. hysterical rhetoric and reefer madness paid for by Conservative party

    • Deflecting by the Liberal party trying to turn this into an election issue. How about the economy and health care Justin?

      • because you say so doesnt make it so. marijuana is a MAJOR health issue do your research before you post

        • The economy is more important do yours

          • tell that to the abundance of seniors, and sick dying people,who need pot but cant access it cuz of the Cons. you got got no heart

          • Nice try my dad lives in a senior center there is one patient out of 200 prescripted medical marijuana

          • And how many are quietly using their vaporizers to ingest the medicine that makes them feel like living rather than committing suicide? Your arguments hold no water.

          • I am not saying that marijuana is not of some use but calling it the cure-all for everything bad is just naive

          • anybody over 50 needs pot for something or other. it kills pain and prevents Alzeimers and Dementia ,Parkinsons etc .Our bodies are hardwired for marijuana . We have cannabis receptors which regulate all of our bodily functions . Pot is an anti inflammatory which could cut disease in half. We can’t access it cuz ot the govt and the price . so many suffer needlessly! look it up . i did

          • Do you think just maybe, that’s the point he’s trying to get through to you? Only one in two hundred that could benefit actually are.
            Prescripted? That’s like Con’s answers to questions and statements.

      • The taxation of pot and profits from its sale would easily pay off the debt created by right wing idiots, fix our healthcare system and put more money in your pocket to stimulate the economy through reduced or, after the debt is paid off, eliminated personal income taxes.

  12. Justin Trudeau was raised a rich kid and like all of them including his Mother were usually using pot or stronger opiates. The ones who this gateway drug affects is the poor who start on the gateway drug pot and are encouraged by the traffickers to the better high. They can’t afford it so they go into prostitution and crime to supply their habit. In the meantime the rich continue on in their dream state and continue to declare how safe pot is and does not lead to more sophisticated drugs. Tell that to the heavy duty cocaine and opium users and their answer will be B.S.

    • trudeau haters are a dime a dozen .gate way drugs is a phrase coined by some reporter 20 years ago and has 0 validity and so does your argument .no pot users go into crme or prostitution either. troll much? anyone whos researched pot knows yer wrong

    • Trudeau may have been raised a ‘rich kid,’ as you put it, and his family has foibles but it takes courage to face the country and the media knowing that just about anyone, who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 50 years, knows his story.

      He has already done more for his party than several of his predecessors. He won’t be able to do the impossible, and hopefully, most people who vote for him will understand that and keep their expectations ‘realistic.’

      I am betting, if he wins, he will acquit himself admirably.

    • If these people were going to the liquor store to show their proof a age and buy a few grams of pot there’d be no contact with traffickers selling cocaine and opiates. That is just one more advantage to legalization. The Cons support organized crime putting pot and whatever else they’re dealing in the hands of school kids.

  13. Cut off your nose to spite your face. My god! What a simplistic and arrogant piece of writing.

    This article was not written to provide an educated opinion, it was written to create chaos and division on the issue.

    Shame Colby Cosh, shame on you.
    Can we not work together and allow everyone to win?

  14. I think my favourite journalists are the grumpy cynics. What a good article. Best yet, most thoughtful, thank you Colby. As a non-pot-smoker who wants to see the bloody stuff legalized, this helped a lot.

    You’re right that there are more kids smoking pot now – I came of age in the 60s, 70s, and I’m living in a suburb of Calgary; can’t believe how many kids smoke pot AND THEIR PARENTS!! (I have a kid who talks to me about such things.) They’re all smoking pot – the ‘preps’ the hipsters, the jocks, the nerds and the stoners. All of them are either smoking it, or they’ve smoked it. Some of them move on to mushrooms, not too many to coke, but lots of drinking.

    So yes, bring it on – because it will be good for the green economy, and who knows what great things are in store if we stop making a plant illegal.

  15. What Justin Did This Summer: He ruined Harper’s summer, and he yanked the rug out from under the NDP. Love it.

  16. Pot-liquor?

  17. Whatever the outcome of this conversation we’re now having about legalization of marijuana, I’m glad it’s happening if only because I’m enjoying watching conservative support splitting over the issue. On comment forum after comment forum I see right-leaning folks disagreeing vehemently over the merits of legalization versus continuing the futile war against the weed. We do, indeed, live in interesting times.

    • ol Stevie should have been smarter now hes in for it he’ll be back in opposition soon.Trudeau probably did it just to spite him

  18. this war on drugs… I surrender. it is just too expensive. I want my tax dollars spent on education and health.

  19. Alcohol prohibition is unthinkable now… but it was once illegal and there were puritans screaming for its ban. Give the ganja a generation or two. Doan fret mon. ;-)

  20. The one giant difference between pot and booze that goes unmentioned, of course, is that people across a crowded room or in the next apartment over or a house halfway down the street can drink to their hearts content and bother you not.

    For those who don’t like the smell of marijuana smoke or those who get sick from it, it’s not nearly as fun. And its a much more pungent odour than even cigarette smoke (hell, it’s on par with pig barns).

  21. Well done. Couldn’t agree more.

  22. Statism (big government) is against legalization for several reasons big government types will never discuss.

    Who profits the most from legalization of Marijuana? As my grandfather said, “Always follow the money…”. Simple fact is being illegal employs lots of police, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, parole, jail guards… often unionized, all over paid funded by taxpayers wallets. Criminal organizations love high prices, more profit!!! I wouldnt even doubt criminals make lobby donations to keep it illegal as no Luxembourgi or Supercar for $20/kilo for weed.

    Back to police state. A huge part of police are hired for drugs, anti-weed. Why is simple, taxpayers fund a larger police state. So when a G8/20 meeting happens, governemtn has more police to control citizens. Even instigate crime to justify more police state as it happened in Quebec….

    We concentrate on left, middle and right politics in one dimensional thought, but ignore the second dimension of liberty versus statism. All our parties are all statism and want to remove public rights.

    You need to gross $1,400,000 of income, to pay $600,000++ in taxes, pay $400,000 of mortgage interest, to buy a $400,000 home that takes $200,000 in hidden and real taxes to buy a $200,000 tax/debt costs out home.

    And you think you are not slaves of statism state? Reason we have poor economics and jobs, is it all goes to statism for a very low common good return.