Article by Martin Green, Grizzle
British economists, politicians and marijuana legalization advocates have criticized the Canadian cannabis model after conducting a research trip to Ontario.
Volte Face, a campaign group that aims to see cannabis legalized in the UK, took a cross-party group of MPs across the Atlantic on a fact-finding mission. It also brought Chris Snowden, head of lifestyle economics at a think-tank called the Institute for Economic Affairs, along for the ride.
Snowden is known his libertarian views and his passionate opposition to all forms of nanny-stateism. He has now written a scathing review of his trip in The Spectator, lambasting the Canadian government for allowing over-regulation, taxation and a lack of competition to get in the way of seizing the initiative from the black market.
Cannabis sourced illegally remains a lot cheaper than the marijuana for sale in regulated retailers, while Snowden was underwhelmed by the consumer experience. He listed high prices, plain packaging and restrictive licensing conditions as the most troublesome aspects of the model.
“Everything about Toronto’s cannabis shops feels regulated to the last inch,” he said. “Browsing their shelves gave me a fresh appreciation for the subtle nudges of consumer capitalism. With logos and colours stripped from the packaging, there is nothing to signal quality, economy or potency; nothing to remember.”
He believes this has sucked the fun out of shopping for cannabis, making its consumers unlikely to switch from the black market. He urged the Canadian government to loosen up and allow more consumerism into “its noble experiment”.