Pot status quo vs. legalization

The Surrey Leader published my letter “Pot status quo vs. legalization.

Here’s the money line:

Failing to legalize, however, is a guarantee that the status quo will remain or worsen.

Pot status quo vs. legalization

Kurt Langmann (The Leader, May 20) has some good ideas about the need for enhanced community involvement and mentoring of young people. But he’s wrong that legalizing marijuana in Canada won’t take the profit out of the marijuana industry in B.C.

And he’s wrong to suggest that the U.S. is highly unlikely to legalize marijuana. In fact, I suspect that marijuana will be legalized in various U.S. states before we have the courage to do it here. It is already legal to possess marijuana (and grow it) in your home in Alaska. Legalization is being debated in California and Massachusetts at the state government level and enjoys majority public support in both states. Legalization barely missed becoming law in Nevada in the last two election cycles.

More to the point, there is a tremendous amount of money being made in the domestic Canadian industry. Canadians consume upwards of 10 million grams of marijuana each month. At street prices that represents about $100,000,000 in sales per month – no small potatoes. Legalization here would drive the price down so far that it may be difficult for criminals to compete with the legal market.

It is probably also worth remembering that Canada is a minor supplier of marijuana to the U.S. Most of its marijuana is produced domestically (good Californian cannabis is as good as so-called “B.C. bud”) and the bulk of its imported marijuana comes from Mexico. And, by the way, it isn’t only B.C. Bud that sells for higher prices in the U.S. – all quality marijuana is more expensive there.

Mr. Langmann, though, is right that legalization is no panacea. Failing to legalize, however, is a guarantee that the status quo will remain or worsen.

Kirk Tousaw




  1. BC_Budman on

    I’ve just been reading news reports that Dutch authorities are closing eight prisons. Why? A shortage of criminals to fill them. Must be all that pot smoking going on there. 😉

  2. Anonymous on

    From Jeffrey Miron:

    “Under the assumption that demand does not shift due to legalization, any change in the quantity and price would result from changes in supply conditions. Two main effects would operate (Miron 2003a). On the one hand, drug suppliers in a legal market would not incur the costs imposed by prohibition, such as the threat of arrest, incarceration, fines, asset seizure, and the like. This means that, other things equal, costs and therefore prices would be lower under legalization. On the other hand, drug suppliers in a legal market would bear the costs of tax and regulatory policies that apply to legal goods but that black market suppliers normally avoid.21 This implies an offset to the cost reductions resulting from legalization. Further, changes in competition and advertising under legalization can potentially yield higher prices than under prohibition.

    The magnitude of legalization’s impact on price is therefore likely to differ across drugs given differences in supply conditions and in the degree to which prohibition is enforced. For marijuana, the best available evidence comes from comparisons of prices between the U.S. and the Netherlands. Although marijuana is still technically illegal in the Netherlands, the degree of enforcement is substantially below that in the U.S., and the sale of marijuana in coffee shops is officially tolerated. The regime thus approximates de facto legalization. Existing data suggest that retail prices in the Netherlands are roughly 50-100 percent of U.S. prices.”

    Although it should be noted that the lower price of cannabis in the Netherlands may reflect the lower demand, although we can also argue that the demand may be lower as a result of the decriminalized cultural mentality.