Well, we can’t have that!

marc-emery-embrace

Regular readers and friends will know that I wrote a book last year entitled “Start and Run a Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop” (yes, hit the link and buy the book…I make about a buck). The book was written in anticipation of Trudeau’s legalization strategy here in Canada and the likelihood that many more American states would legalize recreational or medical marijuana in the November elections.

I don’t have a particular axe to grind in the pot wars. If I smoke pot I go to sleep in three minutes or less. So I don’t. If I had trouble sleeping, I would. But, politically, I think it is assinine to keep marijuana (and several other drugs) illegal. Doing media for the book I have chattered away on assorted Canadian radio programs and said, bluntly, that for the time being, opening a pot shop in Canada opened you to the business risk of “GOING TO JAIL”. My lovely publicist Hanna probably grimaces when she hear me say that but it is, absurdly enough, true.

Which was proven today.

Police officers in several Canadian cities raided illegal marijuana dispensaries linked to activists Marc and Jodie Emery on Thursday, charging them and several others with drug offences as part of an investigation led by Toronto police.

The raids were the latest attempt by local police forces to shut down pot shops that have been opening in cities across the country, even as the federal government prepares to fully legalize the drug with legislation this spring. It was also notable for the involvement of Vancouver’s police force, which has largely left dispensaries in the city alone, including those run by the Emerys.

The two were arrested at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Wednesday as part of a Toronto police operation called Project Gator. the globe and mail

Now, what is actually going on is that the prohibitionist faction in the Liberal Party, led by ex Toronto police chief Bill Blair, having lost the big argument to young Justin, is fighting a brutal rear guard action against the hippy libertarian pot people who don’t see the need for massively intrusive pot regulation. And there is no better place for such un-Canadian anarchists than court and then jail.

The game here is simple: legalization if necessary but not necessarily legalization. The dumbo Millennials who flocked to hip young Justin heard him say “legalization” and didn’t hear all the caveats. But Bill Blair did. And Bill Blair is not the sort of guy who likes any sort of disorder. (Disorder needs to be kettled in Blair world.) The emergence of a grey market in pot is disorderly. It means that the big money guys at Canopy and the other publically listed potcos might be cut out of a “bottom up” recreational marijuana market.

Blair said a day ago that Canada would not rush into the legalized recreational pot market. First there is the legislation which is expected in spring. Then there are the regulations to be worked out with the provinces…

Lawmaker Bill Blair — the former Toronto police chief leading Trudeau’s legalization effort — confirmed a bill is due in parliament this spring, but it won’t be the last hurdle as ample regulatory work remains. The federal government will take its time and work with provinces, territories and cities to build a framework and develop specific regulations, he said.

The government is also looking for ways to control production, distribution and consumption of legalized marijuana, while testing it for quality and keeping it out of the hands of minors, Blair said. bloomberg

All of which should give assorted police forces plenty of time to raid, charge and crush the emergent, unregulated, pot industry in Canada. (To save the children and ensure “purity” of course.)

Trudeau’s supporters are far too stupid to realize what is going on. In fact, Trudeau himself, who simply wants to legally be able to enjoy a joint after dinner, isn’t bright enough to realize the prohibitionists and the corporate pot guys are now running this show. He’s been played.

Marc and Jodie Emery are the go to people for media on the pot issue. Given the charges filed today, they may not be available much longer. Which is exactly what corporate pot in Canada has been pushing for.

 

(And…WTF? Vancouver too. Shame on you VPD.)

Update: 

Ottawa policeman raids pot shop

Ok, why the mask?

Masked police may make sense in terror situations but, so far as is known, pot shop owners don’t track down cops.

So why the mask. There are other pictures of the raids on Cannabis Culture with other masked officers. Why?

I can imagine the poor buggers are ashamed of themselves but that is no justification for wearing masks. I suspect the elephant gun is for taking down the maddened stoners frequenting the shops. But the mask?

The mask is about intimidation plain and simple. The hidden face of the big state showing those hippie libertarians who’s boss. Anti-terror cops sometimes wear masks although they shouldn’t because they should be proud of what they do. Secret police wear masks because they know they cannot be proud of what they do.

So, Justin, you might ask Bill Blair, just out of interest, why the masks?

 

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Cat Meet Pigeons

smoking-gunTrump has been tweeting again and this time he’s dropped the bomb on the Obama Administration’s alleged tapping of the Trump campaign.

Assorted Obama spokespeople have said that Obama himself did not order the wiretaps. Which many have taken as tacit confirmation that there were wiretaps but that the big O did not actually put them in place.

There is a bit of business about two separate applications to the FISA Court which grants wiretap authorizations for surveillance of agents of foreign states – but not Americans. And the wonderfully oily James Clapper told “Meet the Press”:

“For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Asked whether he could confirm or deny whether the FBI could have tapped Trump’s phones under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Clapper was unequivocal.
“I can deny it,” he said. “There is no FISA court order, not to my knowledge, of anything at Trump Tower.” CNN
That this activity was reported some time ago in the NYT is largely dismissed as the Times apparently relied on a report at Heat Street where the very excitable Louise Mensch reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant.
Clapper has a bit of form as being willing to lie under oath but I can’t see any reason why he would lie in these circumstances when it is pretty much inevitable that a FISA application will or will not have been made and decided. There is a record and that record will come out.
At the same time, there is no reason to believe that Trump is not in possession of some evidence that his campaign was tapped. Otherwise, why make the allegation? (And, for sake of argument, let’s put aside the idea that the human Cheeto is simply a deranged lunatic liable to tweet anything.)
The  “Trump ties to Russia” story keeps surfacing as various members of the “intelligence community” leak material to MSM. There does not seem to be much there but what there is can be amped up and puts the Trump Administration on the defensive.  From his tweets and other statements, it is pretty clear Trump is, like many Presidents before him, annoyed with the leaks.
Unlike many Presidents whose response to leaks usually involves some sort of internal investigation, Trump seems willing to try and get to the source of the leaks. He has called for, and is apparently getting, a full scale Congressional investigation of his allegations within the context of an overall investigation of the “Russian influence” on the election.
One read of this is that Trump wants to put the Russian connection allegations on ice for a while and kicking the whole thing over to Congress might have that effect. It is a plausible explanation but it seems somehow inefficient. Very little reward for a significant risk.
My own sense is that Trump has, or thinks he has, a smoking gun. Something which will tie Obama and his administration to illegal activity. If there was a FISA application there would have to be affidavits in support of that application. There would have to be disclosure of the sources and methods whereby the DOJ (the only entity which appears before the FISA court) concluded that there was foreign agent activity at Trump Tower. And that would open several cans of worms.
It is also pure speculation. What is not speculation is that no one in the Obama administration ever, for a minute, believed that Trump would win. Playing a bit fast and loose with rules when there was a Hillary lock on the next administration might well have seemed like a good idea at the time.After all, the orangutang and his flying monkeys were hardly ever going to be in a position to find out.
If there is a “smoking gun”, Trump, by making his allegations and then calling for a Congressional investigation, is ensuring that its discovery will be the work of Congress and not the Trump Administration. Which is not to say the Trump Administration will not leave a trail of boulder-sized, glow in the dark, bread crumbs which even the thickest Congressional investigator will be able to follow.
Trump and his people know that if they are going to put the Russian claims behind them and, perhaps, tarnish the halo the MSM has placed on Obama’s head, the actual investigation has to be at arm’s length. Trump has got his arms-length investigation, now the question is whether he has the actual smoking gun.
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Gotcha!

EPSON scanner image

The continuing farce of the deep state versus Trump took another turn with the “revelation” that Jeff Sessions, Trump’s AG and a former Senator, may have met twice with the Russian Ambassador. And then, when asked a question during his confirmation hearings which was, at a stretch, tangentially related to his possible meetings, said he had no meetings about the particular topic he was being questioned about.

This is pretty much politics as usual except for one important detail. The Washington Post which broke “the story” was a bit coy as to its sources for the news of Sessions meetings. I have seen “intelligence sources” mentioned but that could really mean just about anything.

The partisan spin machines came up to speed this morning with the Democrats claiming perjury and demanding a special prosecutor, recusal and resignation and the Republicans suggesting that this is a “nothing burger”.

The accusations themselves may be meritless but the fact they have been made at all based on information fed to the Washington Post by people inside the government is significant. So is the ongoing attempt to implicate the Russians in Trump’s victory.

It is more than a little unlikely that the two meetings Sessions had with the Russian Ambassador will do any great harm, nor will his answer to the Senate Committee, simply because there is very little wrong with either. But that is not, I don’t think, the intent of this attack.

The objective is longer range. Taking on Trump directly is beyond the capacity of the Democratic party at this stage. They can and will snipe at him. But creating a climate of suspicion around Trump officials has the potential for long-term payoffs while keeping the administration off balance.

No single “gotcha” will take down Trump. A series of minor scandals and embarrassments punctuated by the occasional full on investigation, might succeed in rendering the Trump Administration timid and gun shy. At this point, it is the best option deep state Democrats and their media minnions have.

When Hercules battled the hydra – pictured above – one of the ways he won was to have a friend hold a torch to the hydra’s neck as Hercules lopped off the head thereby prevent the traditional two heads from growing in place of the severed one. At the moment Trump and his people are lopping off the media serpents’ heads as fast as they can; but they are not cauterising the wounds they are inflicting and the serpent keeps fighting. What is needed is a more serious strategy, a long term strategy of marginalising the media and responding directly and forcefully to any allegations made. Some guy once said, “Punch back twice as hard.”

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Trump and the Canadians

Trump, CanadaCanadians’ views on American politics are generally fairly predictable. Being Canadian means a degree of smugness blended with a drop or two of envy and a fairly constant need to assert moral superiority. In a very polite, but persistent way.

The candidacy, nomination and election of Donald Trump gave the better class of Canadian plenty of opportunity to show each other just how intelligent and enlighted they were. The Coynes and Kinsellas competed with each other in the political snobbery sweepstakes. Trump was Hitler, the Republicans the Nazi Party, Steve Bannon was a badly dressed Goring or, more likely, Satan himself. Breitbart News was Der Stürmer, the alt-right was universally the SS, the Trump regime overnight transformed America – save for the brave “Resistance” – into an anti-semitic, racist, fascist, misogynistic state in which freedom of the press and human rights in general were crushed under the jackbooted heels of Trump’s evil to a man (and pretend woman) Cabinet.

It has been tons of fun to watch ostensibly rational, intelligent, people reach immediately for the white supremacist smear tool kit in the face of the unthinkable occurring in our neighbour to the South.  The fact that, one month into the Trump Presidency, the worst he seems to have done is be rude to CNN and the New York Times doesn’t deter our good and decent Canadians one bit. They just know that Trump is an evilton and, at any moment, will open the concentration camps and start rounding up Mexicans, Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Women, Queers, NYT reporters and anyone else the human Cheeto and his henchmen find objectionable.

And, to make the entire thing even more ominous, there seems to be a belief that Trump was put into position by none other than Prince of Darkness, Vladimir Putin and that Trump is simply following orders. Or something.

Step by step refutations of all or some of this hysteria have next to no effect. the Canadian reaction to Trump is not a “political” reaction in any common sense of that term. It is far more visceral, more religious, more tribal: Trump could be a very good President, accomplish great things, improve the condition of black people, defend the 1st Amendment and preside over an economic boom lifting all boats and he would still, to the Canadian commentariat, be the Hell Spawn of Satan.

Now some of that commentariat, like Kinsella, are simply stupid partisans for whom nothing Trump says or does will ever be anything but evil. These were the people who, had they been Americans, would have eagerly voted for Hilly on her merits. (A touching act of faith performed by very few actual Americans – the “hold your nose for Hillary” voters constituted the bulk of her support.)

The mildly more rational, like Coyne, seem to see Trump as essentially impossible. Back before the election Coyne was rumbling on about not being able to see how anyone could support Trump. More recently, he is using the Trump re-alignment in American politics as a stick with which to beat up the Canadian conservative Manning Center conference for having rightish agenda items and some populist speakers.

The biggest worry, the nightmare scenario, for the Canadian media and political elite, is the possibility that Canada is not entirely unanimous in its fevered rejection of Trump and all he stands for. There is an awful possibility that we do not live to welcome refugees. And there seem to be some ungracious Canadians who believe that people who come to Canada should adopt Canadian ways and “fit into mainstream Canadian society”. Yikes!

There is some evidence that, once they realize what it costs and how little effect it will have, Canadians are not entirely willing to do whatever it takes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

There are even some Canadians who are growing a tiny bit suspicious that mainstream Canadian media might not be reporting objectively. In fact, when Macleans let a bunch of its staffers go a few weeks ago, there were nasty Canadians saying “good riddance”.

Despite the frantic efforts of the Kinsellas and Coynes of this world, there are disturbing signs not every Canadian is thrilled with rule by the Laurentian elite.

For all of his foibles, the late Rob Ford’s success in Toronto, worried Canadian elites. I mean it’s one thing to have yahoos in Alberta electing hard core conservatives, but this was Toronto.

The three leading contenders for the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership are all running from the Right. Leitch because that gave her an edge in the early going; O’Leary because, well, who knows what goes on in that strange little man’s head; Bernier because he has run and been elected as a libertarian conservative for years.

Mainstream media is bleeding out, unable to compete with online, unable to adapt to the internet and unable to attract revenue. It is being replaced by everything from VICE and The Rebel to news and views delivered by social media. The cozy relationship between the Globe and Mail, CTV, CBC and the Ottawa political world is collapsing because ambitious politicians can by-pass the media elite.

If our commentariat thought about it for a bit they would realize that the actual reality of Trump is not that he is orange Hitler; rather he and the people around him have figured out how to culture jam traditional media, traditional politics and, perhaps, the deep state. Thinking about how Trump managed to do that would be more interesting than thinking crapping on him from great height somehow matters.

The people, the Canadians, who realize that Trump was actually about something important and transformative will have a clue about what is likely to go on in Canada in the next few years.

 

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MILO…

Kathy Shaidle gets it about right:

Guys, seriously.

When you invite someone as gay as Milo to speak at CPAC or whatever, here’s the thing:

Gay people are not the angelic eunuchs of your Will and Grace straight fantasies.

As pretty much any of them will tell you — ask Tammy Bruce — a huge part of gay culture is the initiation of teen boys into the life by older men.

Five Feet of Fury

I’ve looked at the tapes and read MILO’s explanation and, frankly, the whole “advocating for paedophilia” thing is nothing more than a cheap hit job. Or it is if you know anything about gay culture.

At the moment I am reading Francis Spaulding’s wonderful biography of Duncan Grant. There is no doubt at all that Grant discovered a part of his sexuality because a nasty old man, likely all of twenty-five, touched him at a tender age. Not at seven or even twelve; rather in his mid-teens. Was that wrong? Yes. Does it happen? Yes again. MILO claims he was blowing a priest at fourteen which I find outrageous; but, like Kathy, I am unsurprised.

If you understand gay culture, if you have gay friends, you will know that the idea of men and boys together is part of that culture. Is the age of consent the issue? It might be, but while the vast majority of gay men stay on the legal side of the line, they certainly lust in their hearts for the “twinks”.

And if you understand straight male culture, if you chat with a bunch of guys, you will know that many men would just love to bang a seriously hot fifteen year old. They don’t actually do it any more than gay men do; but a pretty, nubile, underage girl does not go unnoticed. “Jail bait” is a thing and has been for centuries. (And the fashion mags are full of them.)

The nice people, the girls in the front of the class, don’t want to know the darkness in men’s hearts. MILO, to his great misfortune, did not maintain the official pretence with quite the vigor the great and the good require. For which he is punished with disinvitation to CPAC (a now, in the face of Trump, irrelevant organization) and a cancellation of his book deal (keep the money MILO) and, possibly, a parting of the ways with Breitbart.com.

The takeaway. Never tell the truth. Never, for a second, admit that you find a person less that a certain age, sexually attractive. Never allow that gay male sexuality may begin with a moment with an older man. The girls in the class room front row are quite sure that you have sinned even though you are sinned against. If you are straight, make sure you lust after only age appropriate women. Because, otherwise, whether you act on your impulses or not, you’re a perv. Even talking about the beauty of youth makes you a paedophile or worse.

What we are seeing here is a moral panic attached to a political agenda: the left have no counter to MILO, nor do the Rinos. Time to smear. And smear they have.

[And yes, I write that as the father of two “underage sons” who I will protect as well as I can from predatory men or women. But I am not enough of a hypocrite to pretend I have no idea what MILO is talking about. My fond wish is that my sons are as lucky as I was and able to avoid the paedophiles.  But there are no guarantees. Other than keeping your boys in a cotton box, the reality is that there are lots of nasty people out there. And worse, some very nice ones. Innocence is more often lost to the nice than the nasty.)

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The Reveal

05744777I have not written much about Trump post election. Quite honestly, up until he took the Oath of Office, I could not quite believe that the elites arrayed against him would not come up with something to avoid the accession of the Cheeto vulgarian. I guess they just don’t make elites like they used to and there it is, President Trump.

Smart people on the right have noted: 1) in his first week Trump has “flooded the zone” with Executive Orders, appointments, website changes and tweets, almost all of which producing outrage, apoplexy and scorn from lefties and liberals, 2) it turns out that the elite media have been successfully bypassed by the Trumpians by the simple expedient of largely ignoring it, 3) it appears that Trump proposes to keep most of his campaign promises, 4) perhaps most importantly, unlike his predecessor, Trump intuitively understands the real power of the White House is not about intelligence briefings and budget planning, it is about getting things done.

Getting things done, impressing his agenda on the United States and the world, is all about using the full tool kit of the White House. Probably the most powerful tool in that kit is the allure of the White House itself. An invitation to have a cup of coffee with the President of the United States is irresistible to almost anyone in the world, (except the President of Mexico, apparently, but I suspect this is mainly posturing). It is particularly attractive to members of official Washington on both sides of the aisle. For an incoming President, making time to shake hands with potentially useful Congressmen is a force multiplier. So is sitting down with the captains of industry and union leaders.

While the pussy capped ninnies paraded in the streets about just what an awful man Trump is, Trump was in the process of building his own bully pulpit. (“Bully” in the sense Teddy Roosevelt used that word.) He is also making it very clear, particularly to the press, that he is indifferent, if not actively hostile, towards negative opinions of his person or work. He and his staff are not even pretending to take the mainstream media seriously which seems to be resulting in ever shriller and therefore credibility destroying efforts on MSM’s part to demonise Trump and all his works.

After a week of President Trump a bit of an outline is emerging: “Do what you said you were going to do.” “Use the power of the White House to build up a bit of a favour bank.” “Ignore the media when not actively making fun of them.” “Behave seriously but enjoy the office.” If Trump can keep it up he may have a shot at being a genuinely great President.

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Denial

Last year’s media have suddenly discovered that the CIA on not very much evidence have reached a “consensus” that the evil Vlad caused his flying monkeys to hack the DNC servers and access material which was then used via Wikileaks to help crush Hilly so The Donald could win the Presidency. Apparently, this is the biggest political story ever!

Or not.

Probably not. Quick, name a revelation from the Wikileaks trove which would have caused people to switch their vote from Hilly to Trump? Stumped? So am I. I read a lot of the leaks and, while they certainly revealed a rather unpleasant culture of entitlement and corruption at the DNC, there was nothing which was terrifically shocking.

This is just one of the Dem narratives designed to call into question Trump’s legitimacy as President. There are also loser ideas like Steve Bannon being a secret white supremacist, the whole “fake news” lunacy aided and abetted by a brilliant WaPo confection which was sourced to an anonymous website, and, of course, the “billionaire has business interests” routine and shrill cries of “popular vote” as if it mattered. None of it seems to be sticking because none of it has much substance.

What these narratives share in common is the fact the Dems and their enabling media cannot quite bring themselves to accept that the “deplorables” won the election. As Trump goes about assembling one of the most impressive Cabinets in recent memory, the Dems cling to the idea that he can’t really be President. They want a do over.

As each new anti-Trump narrative is run up the media flagpole Trump’s polling popularity inches up. The more desperate the Dems sound the more inclined the general population is to give Trump a chance. The shriller the special snowflakes’ angst becomes the more inclined normal Americans are to be rid of the idiots. Calling Trump an “orange Nazi” may make the snowflakes feel better but it is not likely to make them any less odious.

Trump is going to be President. The only remaining question is whether the Democratic Party is going to be an effective opposition or if it is going to give itself over to denialist tantrums for the next few years. My bet is tantrums.

Trump is also going to be a President who does not need and will not bow to the pathetic mainstream media. As I suggested a month ago, a good place to start would be exiling the White House Press corps from the White House. Putting the media in their place after their awful election coverage is a luxury Trump can afford. The Press needs the President far more than the President needs the Press.

Ultimately Trump will be judged on his performance. To date, he seems to have a pretty solid grasp of the job ahead. We’ll see how he does in office.

 

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Italy: 60/40

The exit polls on the Italian Constitutional Referendum are showing the Yes side of PM Matteo Renzi losing bigly. 60% No, 40% Yes.

Popular anger at everything from the Euro to unfettered African and Middle Eastern migration on to the perpetually sketchy Italian economy all came into the mix. However, having followed the campaign a bit, my sense is that this is a purely populist reaction against the perceived globalist elite. Renzi was appointed – not elected – to office a couple of years ago. Whatever his politics he was seen as a tool of a technocratic, Europhile elite and, as such, when the people had the opportunity to voice their displeasure they took it.

This does not finish the EU. It will take the election of M. LePen to accomplish that; but it does signal a large scale rejection of the centralizing impulse which drives the EU. I expect there will be a fair dose of commentary linking Brexit, Trump and the defiance of the Italians. I doubt that there was much of a link other than the growing realization that the current situation of mass migration, unbalanced budgets and growing governmental interference with people’s lives is unsustainable.

The Italians are having to deal with a wave of African and Middle Eastern migration which they do not want and cannot afford. Their government seems hell bent on spending money it does not have to rescue, feed and house these migrants. Elites, imbued with an internationalist, multicultural orthodoxy, can’t imagine why their citizens are looking askance at migrants who are better treated than the Italians themselves. Unwanted migration is not the only reason for anger but it is the most visible.

The divergence between elite and popular opinion on the question of migration is the fulcrum of anger which is grinding away the pretensions of elite opinion. “Italy for the Italians!” can no longer be dismissed as irrelevant racist cant. Rather, it will begin to inform the actions of any government which hopes to rule Italy.

Today’s Italian vote may well signal the beginning of serious Italian nationalism.

As a general rule elites and Europhiles decry nationalism because they are convinced that that nationalism will set European state against European state a la WWI and II. I don’t think it will. Rather I think the nationalism will set the dominant European culture against the Muslim and/or African migrants/colonists flooding the borders. In the process that nationalism will start rooting out the now discredited ideology of multi-culturalism. In which case, today’s vote was a victory for Italy and the idea that Italian culture is worth defending.

The major loser in all of this is the EU. For the EU the idea of “Italian” was somehow to be submerged into the idea of “European”. The problem was that “European” was not very attractive as it gradually descended into unswerving support for unlimited migration, politically correct multi-culturalism and a deep belief that bureaucrats could make better decisions than Italians about how Italians lived and worked. 16 years of economic stagnation in the Euro strongly suggests that Brussels adds very little to the Italian mix.

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Pot Leaks

marijuana postal delivery

Here are your brownies Mrs. Smith. Can I see some ID?

To my not very great surprise, John Ivison of the National Post had parts of the Canada Marijuana Task Force Report leaked to him.

What was a tiny bit surprising was to be called by “The Morning Show with Matt Gurney and Supriya Dwivedi” http://www.640toronto.com/morningshow/ at 5:30 AM this morning (Producer Ryan…you owe me baked goods.) to comment on the information disclosed in the leak. You can listen to my remarkably coherent (having been awake for a minute and a half) ramblings here.

A couple of slightly less random thoughts on the leaked material.

The leak itself is interesting and more than a little outrageous. The Report clearly favours Health Canada Licenced Medical Marijuana growers and many of those corporate grow shows are publically traded companies. Allowing the report to come out in dribs and drabs (because “translation”) could cause deep uncertainty in the public markets. The government should release the report, in toto, immediately.

Substantively, the Report apparently recommends that legalization efforts be directed at “getting rid of the $7-billion-a year black market. Sources familiar with the report, which is expected to be made public Dec. 21, say all the other recommendations flow from that guiding principle.”

It is not clear whether that “black market” includes the grey market of dispensaries and pot shops which has grown up in Canada and which continues to expand.

Using “legalization” as a weapon against the “black market” is pretty much the level of restrictive thinking I expected from the Task Force. Rather than seeing legalization as an opportunity to regularize the marijuana market, the language suggests a resumption of the war on drugs by other means.

The Task Force is apparently suggesting that the 40 Health Canada approved licencees remain the only legal source of marijuana and proposes that recreational pot, like medicinal pot, continue to be delivered by Canada Post. A nostalgic bow to the mail and a suggestion pretty certain to keep dispensaries and “Bob on the corner” in business for the foreseeable future. Here is a free clue for the Liberal government: recreational pot users are impulse buyers. As I say in my book, “The most common triggers for the decision is that, by their lights, a customer is running low on pot, has run out of pot or has been out of pot for some time but only now has the money to buy more pot.” In short, not likely to wait a week for Canada Post to deliver.

But recreational pot users may be waiting a lot longer than that. Let’s do a bit of simple math. A 7 billion dollar a year “black” market at, say, $10 per gram implies a 700 million gram market or 700,000 kilograms. According to Health Canada’s market data, Canada’s licenced corporate grow shows, in the quarter ending September 30, 2016 produced 5734 kilograms of pot and had inventory of 13,236 kg. Just for fun, lets say we take quarterly production to 7000kg. Annualized, in round numbers, 30,000kg.

Yup, the combined production of all the Health Canada licenced corporate grow shows is, optimistically, less than 5% of projected recreational demand aka “the black market”. Don’t be looking for the postie with your pot anytime soon.

There is no question that some, but not all, of the current licencees can scale up their operations; however a 20x increase in production is not likely with only 40 licencees.

Ivison’s story goes on to suggest that, at least initially, Canada Post would have a monopoly on pot deliveries. The logic here being that Canada Post would verify the identity and age of the people it was delivering to. Right. Just for fun think about how that would work. Would you go to your local post office and present ID to pick up your pot? Would the postie (for those of you who still have home delivery) ask for id at your door? Canada Post according to its 2015 Annual Report delivers millions of parcels. Some days it delivers over 1 million parcels. E-commerce is taking off and Canada Post is getting its share of the business. But a great deal of the parcel post does not involve any interaction with the recipient.

If you take the “black market” number of 700 million grams and assume people will buy in 10 gram parcels – call it $100 – that is 70 million face to face deliveries a year. There will be new jobs at the Post Office.

The only encouraging thing in the Ivison piece is that distribution and production will have to be discussed with the provinces. Ivison suggests that, at least in BC, “which already has a large number of pot shops, the expectation is that the provincial government will require dispensaries to buy marijuana from a licensed producer.” This would make a heck of a lot more sense than distributing through the Post Office.

I am waiting for the release of the actual report, but if Ivison’s article is substantially correct, the Liberal Government is being handed a largely unworkable plan for marijuana legalization. Insufficient supply, inefficient distribution and a prohibitionary mentality seem to have destroyed the entrepreneurial opportunity marijuana legalization presented.

I’m not surprised.

 

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What to Look For in the McLellan Task Force Report on Marijuana Legalization

51lb8qgn6zl-_sx389_bo1204203200_I’ve written a book about how to “Start and Run A Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop”. You can buy it at Amazon at this link. When you write a book about a subject which is in the news you get to do a fair bit of media. The Canadian Marijuana Task Force Report is being delivered to Cabinet tomorrow and will be released to the public “in due course”. Preparatory to that release I made a few notes for my publicist which I thought might be of interest to my readers. Here they are with a few comments below.

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The McLellan Task Force Report on Marijuana Legalization Report is supposed to be released in the next few days. The Task Force was charged with working out how best to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Canada. Its findings are likely to determine how the Liberal government implements its campaign promise to legalize marijuana.

There are a number of questions which the Report may address:

  • Regulatory regime: will the Task Force opt for a Colorado style “seed to sale” regulatory regime where every step of production and sale is tightly controlled and subject to video surveillance, inspection and high security or will the Task Force adopt a less intrusive regime closer to the regulations governing liquor or tobacco?
  • Regularization of the “Grey Market”: Will the Task Force give grey market dispensaries and pot shops a route to above ground operations or will the Task Force take the position that the grey market must be eradicated for legalization to be effective.
  • Growers: Will the Task Force take the position that the only growers who should be allowed to operate are those already licenced by Health Canada or will it provide a pathway for non-licenced growers to participate in the recreational marijuana market.
  • Age limit: The Canadian Medical Association has suggested to the Task Force that the minimum age for recreational marijuana consumption be set at 25. Will the Task Force accept that recommendation or will it set 18 or 19 as the minimum age.
  • Federal/Provincial issues: This being Canada there are a number of issues surrounding legalized marijuana which engage the Constitution. Will the Task Force recommend that marijuana continue to fall under the Federal Criminal Code and Narcotics Control act with legalization consisting of forbearance where licencing and regulations are in place? Or will the Task Force recommend leaving the regulatory details to the provinces?

The marijuana legalization debate in Canada comes down to a question of top down, centralized regulation versus bottom up, decentralized regulation.

The experience in Vancouver and Victoria suggests that a decentralized, bottom up, lightly regulated model is viable and can meet the needs of marijuana users with minimal disruption. It offers entrepreneurial opportunities and, properly taxed, could prove to be a significant, low cost, source of revenue to government.

However, against the Vancouver model, there is a significant strand of prohibitionary thought. If the McClellan Task Force takes a prohbitionary line it will treat marijuana as a “dangerous” substance which needs maximal, top down, regulation. This line will emphasize “protecting the children” and keeping “organized crime” out of the marijuana business as goals more important than entrepreneurial opportunity, competitive pricing or easy access.


If I was to bet I would think the Task Force is going to go for a restrictive, possibly very restrictive, set of regulations regarding recreational pot.

While there are a lot of people who would like to see full decriminalization and a general bottom-up approach, there are lots more who come at marijuana from a prohibitionist perspective. Given McClellan’s background as an anti-drug health minister and a long time advisor to a law firm representing several of Health Canada’s licenced medical marijuana grow shows, the Task Force is unlikely to adopt a laissez-faire  approach.

The only question is how restrictive and comprehensive the Task Force reccomendations will be. Or, put another way, will there be room for the bottom up, Vancouver, style approach within a national framework?

A creative Task Force could craft a regulatory regime which allowed the grey market to be regularized by requiring dispensaries and pot shops to obtain their supplies from licenced growers. (And which eased the current absurd backlog of applications at Health Canada: over 1400 applications, 40 licences granted.) The retailers could be licenced at a local or provincial level – rather like private wine stores – and would have to conform to local zoning and other by-laws.

The licenced growers under such a scheme would, in effect, become the pot equivalent of wineries which are only allowed to sell to licencees. Thus, whatever quality concerns arise could be addressed at the grower level. The number, location and size of pot shops would be a purely local matter. (And, if I were designing the regs I would drop the increasingly implausible “medical marijuana/recreational marijuana distinction”.) If we insist upon preserving the medical marijuana category as a somehow constitutionally guaranteed Canadian right, then licencee growers could continue to sell to mail order customers and individuals would be allowed to grow their own or designate a grower.

You could set a federal minimum age for pot purchase but, despite there being medical evidence that long term heavy usage is not good for the young brain, it would be unwise to set it much above 19 as that would simply create black market opportunity.

This regulatory outline would allow the cannabis culture driven grey market to be regularlized while ensuring that the Health Canada “Big Pot” industrial grow shows stayed in business and allowing new entrants at the grow level. It would be relatively easy to administer and would allow different communities to craft by-laws to reflect their individual community values.

I am not holding my breath.

 

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