As we ever so slowly and painfully work towards the legalization of marijuana in Canada, provincial governments working out how pot will be sold. The Notley government unsurprisingly wants to create a network of government run (presumably unionized) retail stores throughout the province.
This sort of ridiculous business model will do nothing to get rid of the black market for pot and will serve simply as another inefficient government run employment program for overpaid retail clerks.
It has been over 20 years and many folks in Alberta don’t remember what it was like when the government ran all retail liquor sales through the AGLC. I think we had better remind our younger citizens just how horrible the government was and will be if it gets back into the retail sales business.
To put it bluntly, ACLB retail liquor service in Alberta sucked on every possible level.
- Hours: 10am – 5 or 6pm Closed on Sundays and all holidays.
- Strikes: They almost felt like they were annual. Always set before summer long weekends
- Selection: Utter crap. Perhaps 10 brands of beer. A couple dozen wines and assorted spirits. Oh, by the way they didn’t sell any cold beer.
- Service: Utter crap. Union staff were secure and overpaid and they knew it. You entered a store, waited in a long line and were treated as a supplicant rather than a customer.
- Availability: Utter crap. Just guessing but I think that the entire city of Calgary had perhaps 12 stores servicing it.
Bootlegging was a very real thing back in those days. When the nearly annual liquor store employee strikes came, pickup trucks streamed into BC to load with Kokanee to bring back to Alberta while they went East to Saskatchewan to get Pilsner. I remember lines wrapping around the block at liquor stores as people tried to stock up before long weekends. Those who didn’t get enough either had to pay a terrible price for offsale beer or if they were connected would buy spirits from the countless bootleggers out there.
Yes, as a minor it was tough for me to get booze in the 80s from the stores. They were diligent about IDing folks. Thanks to the handy network of bootleggers that government run stores caused the creation of however, it was dead easy to pay a few more bucks as a minor and get booze.
The bottom line is that if there is a market void due to government regulation or monopoly, the black market will happily fill it. The black market for pot is already very well established. They won’t need to change anything. They just need to wait for Notley to screw up the retail pot system.
We can rest assured that government run stores for pot will be as bad or worse than their liquor stores were. Why on earth would we want to repeat that failed experiment (oh yeah, we need more union jobs).
With the crappy selection, service and availability that government stores will be sure to provide, the black market for pot will surely continue to thrive as dealers will be able to offer better product at better hours at a better price.
There is a real opportunity to clean up the mess that black market industries cause through legalization. If we ruin it by creating another bloated and pointless government monopoly however, there will be utterly nothing gained in this. Unregulated grow ops will continue along with the associated fire and property damage while criminal networks will still manage the larger distribution of the products.
Let private industry take care of pot. It can be regulated but left alone enough that it cuts out the black market.
Notley has enough more important things to work on anyway like learning economics and reducing our staggering debt.