In the Canadian government's push to legalize cannabis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised Canadians a system that would keep prices low for legal marijuana. Yet, almost three years after legalization, it is still infinitely cheaper to buy from black market dispensaries, especially in the long term.
The result? A broken promise that has left many Canadians feeling let down. So why this mob-like behaviour? Let's explore why legal marijuana in Canada is still sold at double the price that it should be.
The Mob's Cut
Weed isn't sold hand to hand anymore. When buying marijuana at a store, you're not supporting the person who sold it to you. Instead, your money is split up between agencies, growers, distributors and, of course, the feds.
It's a necessary consequence of legalization that was agreed upon by Trudeau when he announced his cannabis plans - but what about those who can't afford these inflated prices?
This inflation is an injustice in itself, prohibiting low-income Canadians from exercising their right to medicate.
The Investor's Share
Legalization came with dreams of a new gold rush. Investors flocked to the latest market and bought up all of Canada's cannabis stocks, creating an illusion that the cashout would be gigantic.
With pressure from these investors to get serious returns, government stores decided to jack up their prices, with little regard for cannabis enthusiasts, whose culture they were stepping on.
Once investors are involved, it becomes less about ideas and more about numbers.
Speaking of numbers, overhead costs are probably the most crucial factor in this price inflation.
Think of it like construction work. Government contracts are notoriously known to overvalue everything from materials needed to salaries because the money will come anyway.
The marijuana industry is in a similar boat. When buying from legal dispensaries, you're paying a CEO, a vice-president, a chairman, a team of lawyers, marketing experts, scientists, and the list goes on. That's just the reality of being a huge business.
The problem with this investment-driven model is that fewer options are available for those who want cannabis but cannot afford the markup at these government stores. They should at least allow us to decide which route we want to go.
Not everyone wants to buy from corporations, and it's their right to choose.
I'm not talking about the minimum-wage workers at the counter. They're good. But at the top of the command chain is a small group of people pocketing all the cash.
That is the main reason why most provinces decided to enforce a monopoly.
But a monopoly is the opposite of what we want- it limits access, choice and quality. That means that when you can't find something, there are no options for other products.
The other problem with greed is that it's never satisfied. It continues to grow and constantly needs more sources of profit.
Is there hope for affordable legal weed in Canada?
"Is there hope for an all-around, honest government?" Yes and no.
Still, 30 years ago, the question would have been: "Is there hope for the legalization of cannabis." So we can't overlook how far we've come, and we can't dismiss the possibility of them making things right.
The only way, in my opinion, for us to see a thriving cannabis market would be to allow the black market to join the party openly. They need to merge forces and use each other's strengths to the customer's advantage.
The black market's knowledge of the cannabis culture could help the government sell weed the way it's supposed to be sold; and the government's endless funds could help build out this new industry with more research, better quality control, and healthier products--giving consumers what they want while also helping small businesses grow their bottom line.