Article by Marni Soupcoff, National Post
People who want the legalization of marijuana to succeed in Canada should welcome the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s recent suggestion to Premier Kathleen Wynne that private retailers be permitted to sell the drug.
Wynne has mused about selling marijuana exclusively through Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlets, which currently hold a virtual monopoly on liquor sales in the province. Consigning pot to this limited, bureaucratic, union-mired distribution method would negate many of the free-market advantages that are supposed to accrue from legalization: for example, opportunities for consumers to buy the product in convenient, varied ways that best suit them.
If legalization offers more choice, a better experience, reasonable prices and more individually tailored products, it will draw people away from the black market and send marijuana sales into the safe and cleansing light of day. On the other hand, if legalization offers stratospheric price tags, overpaid sales help delivering sub-par service, limited selection and inconvenient hours and locations, then many marijuana buyers will stick to the lesser evil of underground dealers.
Sadly, even though the Ontario Chamber of Commerce made this salutary point in its letter to Wynne (albeit not quite so directly), the group’s alternative proposal is not far superior to the government monopoly model: a “licensing system, whereby a fixed number of access points are auctioned out to both the public and private sectors — including unions,” which it says “may be a more efficient model of regulated delivery.”