Article by Mike Okada, Cannabis Life Network
An unlikely ally is fighting for BC’s small, craft cannabis growers- the BC Conservatives- who are demanding that the provincial government allow a free and open cannabis market.
In a Feb. 7th news release, Scott Anderson, the BC Conservatives’ interim leader, hit back at the new cannabis retail rules released by BC’s NDP government that hands the Liquor Distribution Branch a monopoly on wholesale distribution, which forces all non-medical retailers to get their cannabis from the LDB.
Mr. Anderson said, “We will make every effort to allow small scale “craft growers” to compete with large growers on a level playing field,” saying that, “It’s bad enough that the GreeNDP has started a trade war with Alberta that threatens our wine industry, but now it wants to double down and kill the province’s cannabis industry as well.”
He went on, “In keeping with our philosophy as a free enterprise party, the BC Conservatives will allow and encourage… small entrepreneurs to compete in any distribution and growth model”.
Conservatives fighting for free enterprise (and votes)
The appeals for free enterprise in BC’s cannabis retail system can also be seen as a calculated move to position the BC Conservatives as a business-friendly party to hopefully steal support from the BC Liberals, who are usually BC’s Big Business party, having received $30 million in donations from its top corporate donors from 2005-2017.
The Conservatives are also hoping the increased competition from allowing free enterprise in BC’s non-medical cannabis retail system will help keep prices low, which would combat the black market as well through reduced profit incentives.
This approach runs contrary to their federal counterparts, who have suggested they might even delay passage of Bill C-45 due to “rigorous debate”, but it’s a sound strategic move as BC is Canada’s most cannabis-friendly provinces- polls have shown that up to 79% of British Columbians support legalization. Trying to stop legalization in BC would be political suicide, although it’s worth noting that BC’s more rural areas tend to skew more conservative.
Whether or not BC voters can divorce this message from the anti-cannabis approach of the federal Conservative party remains to be seen- the next provincial election is over three years away, after all- but it seems doubtful that this single issue will be enough to sway BC over to the Conservatives, who have not won an election in BC since 1928.