In ten years of operation the only thing that Health Canada has managed to do with the MARIHUANA MEDICAL ACCESS PROGRAM is to completely lose control of a market they created. They created the demand of 5000 licensees who need a source of legal Marijuana, but have made no effort to supply the needed product beyond a one source mail order system from Ottawa and Licensed Personal or Designated Growing. They decided on a one-size-fits-all policy, selected an unknown strain of weed as a product, set the price at $5 +tax per gram, and started issuing licenses. Then they sat back and waited till the wheels fell off. Today they are chucking the baby out with the bathwater. They are recommending abandoning the whole program and the replacement of all legal licensed growth including all Personal and Designated growth, with a system of licensed profit oriented private contractors who will now be able to sell at prices they set themselves. Total bloody idiocy!
What should the Ottawa have done?
Six steps that common business sense suggests at a minimum:
- If you are going to start a Medical Marijuana program that is going to create a national demand for product then you should have lots of that product available.
- If there are variations of the product available with differing degrees of benefit to the user, offer as many variations as possible
- Having decided your offering you now set the price of the product usually on a cost plus basis.
- Create ease of access by setting up a network of retail distributors across the country and a centralized online order system.
- If physical facilities are required ensure that all Grow ops meet Code and legal requirements by establishing communication links with Municipal and Law Enforcement to advise what is being done to ensure compliance with the Regulations when an Authorization to grow is issued.
- Design and implement an effective information processing system to process applications and render customer service to all licensees.
Steps 1. & 2. & 3.
They actually managed to blunder through items 1 to 3 but most stupidly. They elected to meet the anticipated product demand by contracting to Prairie Plant Products for a supply of one single strain of pot. That has never changed despite knowledge re potency and genetic relationships. They decided on a selling price of $5/gram and then burdened Prairie Plant with so much unnecessary product compliance and certification that the cost of production has exceeded the sale price since day one. The Marihuana Medical Access Program has been a constant loss proposition for Health Canada and I guess someone woke up to the fact. It was pointed out in the Auditor Generals Report for 2008 but got ignored.
Step #4- Create ease of access
Having gotten as far as step #4, they stopped and decided that since this involved personal medical knowledge it must be “Confidential” and everything suddenly was “Secret” or “Private”. The MMAD became a Blackhole for information in the middle of Health Canada: Everything goes in but nothing ever comes out! With that in mind Health Canada jumped to Step #6, set up the MMAD to handle application processing and administrative control. That has turned into the monstrosity that takes months to process all applications. Any sort of request regarding information about the operation of the division, or about procedures and the reason for delay is usually ignored or at best answered after an extended period of time that renders its utility useless. It is the imposition of this intractable devotion to Secrecy that has caused nearly all of the problems in the field today.
Secrecy has hampered and defeated the one good creation of the Program: the option for Personal and Designated growth. They condemned it to failure before it even got off the ground because of stupidity. At the beginning of the program marijuana was illegal and by and large knowledge of its use and growth was kept private and confined to a close circle of acquaintances. Health Canada suddenly became the middleman between user and grower: a classic supply and demand situation. You have a list of licensees looking for a grower to supply their need, and you have a list of growers with capacity who are looking for needy licensees. All you have to do is match them up. Not! Health Canada decided all identities are confidential, and will not release the lists to either side. Someone with infinite wisdom decided to slam a roadblock into the flow of information and so it goes for all other areas of the program as well. Nobody outside knows what the hell is going on in the Medical Marijuana Wonder World. Unfortunately we got where we are because nobody inside Wonder World knows what the hell is going on either.
Step #5- Physical facilities
Having slapped the Secrecy label in place, Health Canada completely avoided Step #5-the notification of Municipal and Law Enforcement authorities of the location of Legal Grow Ops. This has never been done and is at the root of a lot of the misinformation about the hazards that are blamed on legal grow ops. There is no doubt that grow ops pose all the hazards claimed, but it is also a fact that there is a very small probability that any threat to the community is the result of a Legal Grow Op. Remember there are an estimated 50000+ illegal grow ops in Canada and to blame less than 10% for all the resultant problems is an overstatement to say the least.
You can’t control what you can’t see and to not tell the police or the Municipal By-Law authorities is a masterful demonstration of short-sightedness. At this point in time the only ones who know the location of Licensed Grow Ops are the Bureaucrats running the MMAD. Confining the information to a bunch of useless fat cats who never get their arse out of their leather recliners guarantees the failure of the program.
Step #6- the effective information processing system to process applications and render customer service to all licensees
Having said that I will confidently wager that whatever system is proposed by the pundits will be a complete goddamned farce. Why? Because the people doing the revision are the same stupid collection of bureaucrats and political hacks that are responsible for the sick, sad, sorry condition of the current system. It’s the Cops investigating the Cops. Given the Harper government performance so far, I suspect the culprit will get a six month suspension with pay and a round trip ticket to Bali on an Air Force jet to handle the poor buggers PTSD.
For the past several years the history of the Program is one of extended wait lists that are completely unnecessary. They have a Goal of 8-12 weeks that they have seldom if ever managed to meet. I took the time to analyze what they had to do to actually process and application and cam up with a liberal time of 35 minutes to check and verify every blank on all the forms. I will not go into detail here and now. I am wrapping this up but if you are interested I how I came up with that liberal 35 minutes take a look at (TBA) in the archive. It was a lot of bloody work! Worth a peek.