The Unseen Cost of Legalization in BC

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The unseen cost of legalization in BC Illegal bud has been a big part of the local economy in BC since the 70's, and legalization could spell the end of this

There are a lot of numbers being thrown around about the expected size of the newly emerging legal cannabis market—numbers of what can be expected from taxes, numbers related to share price and market valuation, numbers of what can be expected in terms of retail sales, and how much cannabis it will take to meet those numbers. Most of these numbers seem to be based on the economic philosophy that has ravaged our environment—namely, that they are created out of thin air.

Canada’s colonization gives many examples of such numbers, from the uncalculated costs of smallpox, to the displacement and decimation of culture, forests, bisons, beaver. These were all things that simply provided wealth in the ledger books, balanced against only the most superficial of costs.

The numbers thrown around regarding cannabis are very similar. There will be a cost to legalization that will likely go untracked.

Simply put, there was already a cannabis industry before the MMPR/ACMPR. Even as that program grows, so does the original unregulated and untracked industry. While this probably doesn’t mean very much in the rest of Canada, it is amazing that this is not the central issue of the upcoming BC provincial election.

Think that’s an overstatement? In the year 2000, the Fraser Institute published a report estimating the illicit cannabis trade would contribute 7.1 billion dollars to BC’s gross domestic product.

The unseen cost of legalization in BC Illegal bud has been a big part of the local economy in BC since the 70's, and legalization could spell the end of this

To put this in further context, these numbers are from 2000, when there were maybe five dispensaries in the whole country, before the government started licensing designated growers, before shatter and concentrates were popular, and when edibles consisted of a brownie or a cookie if you were lucky.

Even ignoring all of that growth, the idea that the size of the BC cannabis industry is nearly equal to that of mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction combined, or that it is worth all of the province’s agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and utilities combined should be frightening. These are generally recognized as giant industries in BC, vital to our economy, and any discussion about limiting any of these industries is immediately met with an outcry over lost jobs.

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