Appeared in Business in Vancouver – June 17, 2014
Mike Harcourt is signing on with a medicinal marijuana company. Well, what’s a former premier to do? Gotta live somehow, one supposes.
I like Harcourt, easily the B.C. premier of the last half-century that I’d most want to hang out with, and a rare politician who honourably took the fall for the most dishonourable New Democrat of our times. No personal scandal blotted Harcourt’s record, no deceitful dollars stuck to his fingers.
Now – overcoming his initial skepticism – he’s joined True Leaf Medicine Inc., a medical marijuana company. That’s entirely legit under the federal Conservatives’ rules. I just find it sad.
I repeat my Gold-Making Rule: nothing happens in our society until money gives its permission. And exploiting human frailty and stupidity is more lucrative than real work. Dividend Opportunities, published online in Austin, Texas, eagerly cites a marijuana stock that “started 2014 at $0.22 a share before rocketing up to $3.12. … Here’s a string of small stocks like this that are ‘about to go big.’”
Washington state and Colorado – where Gov. (John) Hickenlooper’s name uncannily suits his giddy cause – are in the U.S. forefront in legalizing “recreational use” of marijuana, galloping in the hoofprints of the stalking horse that is medical marijuana.
In Vancouver, the cops have long winked at simple possession. They’ve already mumbled that they won’t enforce the new federal law that sanctions medical marijuana – whose users claim that notwithstanding all the stuff in the medicine chest, only marijuana, miraculously, can give them relief. Permits for medical use shot up from 85 when the regulations were put in place in 2001 to 29,719 in 2013, with Health Canada projecting 450,000 by 2024 – “creating a taxable industry with potential annual revenues of $1.3 billion,” the Vancouver Sun’s Jeff Lee reported.
Governmental snouts in the trough are already greedily probing for once and future tax share from the cornucopia of B.C.’s estimated $6 billion illegal drug business. Example: under BC Assessment’s weird rules, commercial production in municipalities can qualify for farm classification. Result? In one lurid hypothesis reported last week, a medical marijuana producer operating from a 25,000-square-foot warehouse in Richmond would pay annual municipal taxes of $395. A (boringly conventional) comparable business would pay $33,100.
Victoria and Ottawa reap the taxes, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan complains; when there’s trouble down on the “farm,” the municipalities will be stuck with police and firefighting costs, Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin adds.
Such turf-slicing, bureaucracy-expanding, court-challenging and so forth are great news for the economy. Police needn’t fear unemployment (and the phony savings) from the “lost war on drugs.” They’ll keep busy patrolling the borders of underage stoners, bootleg operators, the driving-while-kite-high and so forth.
Who could have predicted this: children in Colorado’s Hickenlooperland have already become sick eating – stop and think! – marijuana-infused cookies and candies.
“What the hell is wrong with us?” wrote skeptical Sun columnist Shelley Fralic, noting “the sheer lunacy of a world that criminalizes jaywalkers but has propelled an illegal drug into an acceptable social movement.”
That money should be made in this harmful fashion is only the penumbra of much more to come. The CBC recently interviewed an American professor musing about heroin as pretty well OK, and a front-page headline shouted that heroin use in Vancouver is rising.
To purloin the music of Winston Churchill’s famous rumble when the tide began to turn during the Second World War: legalizing marijuana is not the end of the harmful drug issue; it is only the end of the beginning.
© Trevor Lautens, 2014