Sunday, 26 June 2016

What Dispensary Popularity Tells Us


For as long as I, or many of my local friends can remember we've purchased our cannabis in parked cars, on park benches, and in basements amid smoke clouds and busy game-stations.  For as long as I've been choosing cannabis instead of alcohol for recreation, and instead of pharmaceuticals for mental health, I've been buying it in sandwich bags in a nervous and rushed fashion, trying to get in and get home unseen.

As glamorous as all of this sounds, it gets old fast.  And as normal as this feels for many of us, it's a risky situation that we have been forced to put ourselves into, just to purchase a bag of dried plant flowers.  If we were allowed to grow this safe plant, this whole point would be moot.  But that's a whole other post.

Toronto Police just raided 43 illegal cannabis dispensaries.  That's 43 units with rent ranging from $2000 to $4000 per month.  That's 43 businesses employing staff at a wage of minimum $11.25 per hour.  That's investment for set up, investment for product, investment for utilities and security. From what I've read, none of these 43 businesses were anywhere near bankruptcy though their monthly financial output is vast to say the least.  I guess the people like buying their cannabis in a store.  Who knew?

The head of the legalization task-force Bill Blair says that these stores and the people therein don't care about the law, don't care about regulations, don't care about kids, don't care about communities, don't care about the health of Canadians.  It is a surprisingly limited perspective that needs to be countered.

1).  Don't care about the law:  Perhaps some, but not all.  In fact many faces of cannabis dispensaries are the faces you've seen protesting the prohibition of this plant for dozens of years. Many know that law all too well, with it the sting and the stigma a criminal record leaves.  Many have written letters, started petitions, educated doctors in order to change this law.

2.)  Don't care about regulations:  Perhaps some, but not all.  Most have asked for regulation. Please legitimize our choice!  34 business in Toronto alone have been treating this consumer-driven product as if it's already regulated.  All you had to do is show them the regulations, tell them where to sign up, where do they pay for the license to legitimize their stores?

3.)  Don't care about kids:  Perhaps some, but not all.  The premise is laughable to be honest.  These store-owners are providing a safe place for adults to buy their medicine and/or recreation, in turn starving the capitalist dealers on the street, and helping law enforcement in doing so.  It's basic economics, when you take away the need, the industry fizzles.  Cannabis is bulky and smelly.  The criminal mentality will turn to selling other things when cannabis sales sink, streamlining things for law enforcement to crack down on the substances that really do pose a risk.

4).  Don't care about communities:  Perhaps some, but not all.  Most of them are tired of seeing the cannabis users in the community put themselves at risk.  They know that fewer points of sale on the street means safer communities.

5).  Don't care about the health of Canadians:  Perhaps some, but not all.  Most of these dispensaries have health at the forefront of their businesses, showing consumers how to use this medicine in safe and effective ways.  Many are patients themselves.  Many have seen this plant perform miracles for friends and loved ones.  Not to mention, these are people who don't want to see consumers buy product of questionable quality or content.  Storefronts offer safety.

I firmly support the regulation of cannabis.  Regulation comes in many forms and if you do it right, taking into consideration safety, science, and market need you create something great.  This could be Canada.  The popularity of cannabis dispensaries all over Canada tells us very clearly what the people want.

In other news, the Ontario Government just made the decision to allow Ontario Ciders to be sold at some grocery stores.  This decision came after sales figures showed how popular this apple-alcohol beverage is.  The people like their Cider.  Well, the people also like their cannabis.  Regulate it already.