Itís astounding how supposedly business-minded governments can be so bad at doing business. How they can stare an opportunity in the face and miss it entirely.
Take B.C. as a prime example. Last fall, the province heard at more than 30 public meetings that coastal communities were in decline because of rising ferry fares. At packed meetings, speakers of every political stripe came out to expose a real inequity in the provinceís transportation system, which funds highways and inland ferries 100 per cent while imposing an arbitrary ďuser-payĒ approach to the coastal ferry service.
The argument is sound and the economic impact of high fares is inarguable. Government could have seized this opportunity. Even the 25 per cent rollback advocated in December by the chairs of the coastal ferry advisory committees ó not exactly a group of radicals ó could have immediate and profoundly positive implications for coastal economies.
But no, this week we saw that itís business as usual with BC Ferries. Exactly as planned before the public consultations took place, BC Ferries confirmed that a 4.1 per cent increase on all routes goes into effect April 1, part of a 12 per cent increase over three years.
At the same time, the province released its consultantsí summary report on last fallís coastal ferry engagement sessions. Apparently all this stuff about high fares and inequities within the provincial transportation system is major news to the Liberals and now has to be digested. By all indications, if they were to get re-elected in May they would implement service cuts as the logical solution, all things considered.
But letís move from ferries to medical marijuana. There really hasnít been enough attention given to Health Canadaís medical marijuana statistics, especially for B.C.
As of December, there were just over 18,000 medical marijuana patients in Canada who were licensed to produce, and more than half of them ó 9,369 ó live in B.C.
At the same time, there were 3,405 designated growers in the country who are holding licences to produce, and two-thirds of them ó 2,232 ó live in B.C.
B.C. clearly is the cradle and the centre of the medical marijuana industry in Canada.
And yet both Ottawa and Victoria treat it like a dirty social disease that the rest of society is on the hook for. Under the proposed Health Canada changes, not only will patients and their designates have to stop growing, but for the commercial facilities there will be no growing outdoors ó even though some medicinal strains can only be grown properly outdoors. There will be no edibles or topical products ó even though Health Canada should know better than anyone that smoking is bad for your lungs.
Meanwhile in Massachusetts, where medical marijuana was officially legalized Jan. 1, a company called Medical Marijuana Inc. paid $1.45 million for the intellectual property of Dixie Elixirs and Edibles, including formulas, recipes and technology, The Marthaís Vineyard Times reported March 6.
Dixie Elixirs and Edibles makes soft drinks, rice cakes, fruit lozenges and chocolate truffles, ďall infused with specific doses of medical marijuana,Ē the newspaper said.
The company is looking to build major food and marijuana production facilities in the state, predicting the market will hit $300 million within 36 months.
In Colorado, where medical marijuana was legalized in 2000, and where recreational use was legalized in a ballot referendum last year, the company expects the market to triple, to $1 billion.
Thereís money in those buds. With its natural food culture, B.C. could be a global supplier of edible medical marijuana products. Call it weed cuisine. Make a billion.