Pubdate: Fri, 02 Dec 2011
Source: Kamloops Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Kamloops Daily News
Author: Bruce Symington


I respond to John Noakes who wrote a thoughtful, inquiring letter 
(published Nov. 28), regarding harms from marijuana grow-ops in 
residential neighbourhoods.

There are two types of grow-ops; mom and pop operations to supply the 
growers and perhaps to share with a few friends, and commercial 
grow-ops designed to extract maximum dollars from the black market. 
The house Mr. Noakes described which blighted the area was no doubt 
the latter type.

Let us imagine how legalization might change this; the best simile is 
beer. There are huge commercial breweries which mass produce a fairly 
good product which satisfies most drinkers, some micro or cottage 
breweries which produce specialty beers, and there are home brewers 
who brew for their own consumption and to share with a few friends.

The marijuana market is not much different in structure; the big 
outdoor commercial producers are clandestine operations located 
either within the country or in another country nearby. They produce 
a bulk, mediocre product which is consumed in huge quantities.

There are commercial grows indoors, also clandestine, which roughly 
correspond to the microbreweries, producing a superior product which 
sells for a higher price, and there are mom and pop grows which 
supply the grower's needs and perhaps to share with a few friends, 
roughly the same as the home brewers.

The only real difference between the two markets is their legality. 
With beer, the huge breweries and microbreweries are licenced, 
inspected and controlled.

If they were to produce a bad product which harms the consumer, there 
would be legal consequences. If the product is inferior, few will buy 
it and they lose money.

Home brewing for self use is legal and largely unregulated, but sales 
are prohibited. Almost every consumer of beer is buying legal beer.

In the marijuana model, there is no regulation and no control. When 
cannabis is legal, we can control its production, distribution and 
consumption with reasonable laws, regulation and inspections which 
will reduce harms to society. The producers will be business people, 
not criminals.

Couple this with active suppression of "bootleg"  pot, and you have 
the same as the beer model.

There would still be mom and pop grows, but because they would be 
legal, they would be properly wired by an electrician, and nobody 
would break in to their house to steal their grow, (same as beer) 
because it's not worth the hassle; easier to just go buy a couple 
grams at the liquor store down the road.

The situation with beer and marijuana would be almost exactly alike 
under a legal model. Ask yourself; when was the last time you heard 
about the harms associated with brewing beer? When was the last time 
there was a shootout between brewers or suppliers or storekeepers of beer?


Medicine Hat, Alta.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom