Also available at Cannabis in Canada.ca
taxis do is drive people around. Like growing medical cannabis, it
doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. And like cannabis
farmers, some cabbies are of a higher quality. But who determines this? Jerry Seinfeld has a great bit on this question,
where he lampoons the notion that these are “professional” drivers.
What does it take to get a license? In places like New York City, it
costs $950,000 to get a taxi license, in addition to other government
regulations that drive up costs, all of which gets passed on to the
consumer. By keeping the price for licenses high, supply can be
restricted despite increasing demand, thus cabs can charge higher fees
than they otherwise could in a free market. Ride-sharing apps like Über
undermine the crony-capitalism of the cab industry.
Former BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon told CTV,
“Whenever you have a regulated system that limits competition you
inflate the value of the licenses that are in the system.” Falcon has
since left government. The situation in Vancouver (or Toronto, or New
York City) between state-protected taxi companies and free-market
competition like Über isn't so different from the cannabis industry of
Canada. Just as the supply restriction on cabs leads to higher prices,
the attempted restriction of 30,000-plus cannabis growers for a small
cartel of licensed producers will only lead to higher prices. Not to
mention the severe restriction of civil liberties on the people who
claim to be living in a free and democratic society. Imagine if cab
companies tried to ban private automobiles.
And like taxi
companies attacking Über, the LPs are criticizing their “illegal”
competition like dispensaries and compassion clubs. “Illegal”
competition that, unlike ride-sharing apps vis-à-vis the taxi industry,
predate the state-protected LPs. John Arbuthnot, vice president of Delta
9, a Manitoba-based LP, recently told the CBC
that patients should be cautious of buying cannabis from dispensaries.
He thinks there are “challenges” that need to be regulated like
“packaging, labeling. Where's the product coming from?” He asked, “has
it been grown under sanitary conditions?” All good questions, but
Arbuthnot concludes that only the federal government can provide this
regulation. If he had thought about this a little further, and perhaps
he already has, he would realize that very often the top-producers in
the industry will influence government bureaus to write rules and
regulation that limit their competition and make it easier for them to
profit at the expense of consumer sovereignty. This is what has happened
with the taxi companies of virtually every city in the Western world.
This same style of crony-capitalism is now here in the Canadian cannabis
industry. The attack on “unregulated” dispensaries isn't about patient
health and safety. It's about making sure the LP competition is either
nonexistent or subject to the same costly government regulations.
is a way out, however. For both taxis and cannabis in Canada, licensing
and regulation don't need to be under the sole discretion of the
monopoly state. It's a self-evident notion that we accept in other areas
of our lives. If there is only one grocery store in Vancouver, then it
doesn't matter how good or bad the quality of the goods or services are.
If people wanted to patronize another grocery store, they wouldn't have
a choice. Likewise, since there is only one licensing bureau in the
city, it doesn't matter how effective they are at their licensing.
Producers have no other choice than to use the city and consumers are
required to accept this monopoly.
In a free society, producers
would have the option of patronizing different licensing businesses to
decide which regulatory scheme best suited their needs. And why would
they voluntarily abide to third-party regulators? Because consumers
demand it! That's where the whole concept of government regulation came
from. Voters wanted protection from predatory business practices without
realizing that all government action is by definition predatory. A
better solution would be to allow entrepreneurs to provide the kind of
regulations consumers demand. Bad regulations would be abandoned since
they wouldn't make the regulators any money, and the only way to make
money absent of taxation is by providing value to consumers. Licensing
and regulating businesses is a business itself. Without a government
bureaucracy, a free market licensing and regulation industry would
provide a wider variety of better goods and services that would reach
the market sooner. The free and fair market would force consumers to act
in accordance with their own — rather than the government's — risk
assessment. And competing regulatory agencies, to safeguard against
product liability suits as well as to attract customers, would provide
increasingly better product descriptions and guarantees. There is simply
no excuse for anyone – let alone people calling themselves
“progressives” – to be championing government regulations.