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What the NHS can learn from Germany’s Hospital System

Post-Coronavirus, the UK should not shy away from debate over the NHS, and how to achieve better patient outcomes, argues Fred Roeder

When contrasting how countries around the world are coping with COVID-19, over the past few weeks one country has stood out. Germany’s health system has received regular praise for its resilience in facing the COVID-19 pandemic, but what are they doing right?

Germany is one of the most affected countries in Europe but the mortality rates are significantly lower than in most other European countries dealing with the coronavirus. Germany’s capacity to test widely and early has definitely contributed to this but an often underappreciated factor is its very competitive, modern, and often private hospital system.

While the UK currently has fewer confirmed COVID-19 cases, this is probably due to the lack of testing capacities of the NHS, the more interesting and shocking number is that the death rate per 1 million people is four times higher in the United Kingdom compared to Germany. Germany’s mainly private and decentralized testing infrastructure happens mostly outside of hospitals, in private laboratories, and has enabled Germany to conduct as many as 150,000 tests per week. To put that in comparison, the UK has managed less than 10,000 a day so far.

Being the relative of an NHS patient, I had to assist her to go through its byzantine and centralized testing regime, even for simple blood samples. GPs send patients to hospitals just to get their blood taken and analysed. Scaling up such a centralized testing system allows no mistakes to be made. A decentralized and independent system however allows for some parts in the chain to fail and the other still to perform, and crucially allows room for innovation.

Merely 28% of the roughly 1,950 hospitals that participate in Germany’s universal health system are owned by the government. 37% are private for profit hospitals that treat patients covered by the public health insurances and receive the same amount of reimbursement per case as the public ones or the 34% that are operated by churches and other charities. Despite charging the same as government hospitals private for-profit hospitals have the highest investment per case (about 64% higher than public hospitals), which leads to more state-of-the-art treatment and newer medical equipment.

It is also very interesting to look at how private hospitals perform better compared to government hospitals in Germany. Within the first four years one can observe an increase in efficiency of between 3.2% and 5.4% above those hospitals that had not been privatised. Despite its mainly private character Germany has nearly three times as many beds per 100,000 people compared to the UK. It gets even worse when looking at intensive care beds per 100,000. Germany has over 4 times the intensive care capacity compared to the NHS. In recent weeks Germany added another 40% additional capacity to its already high intensive care beds. This number is not reflected in the comparison.

Given that we are currently facing a massive pandemic it is shocking to see how poorly prepared the centralized NHS was, from a lack of protective equipment for clinicians, to its failure to prepare for mass testing. While the hard work of individuals within the health service has done what seemed impossible only weeks ago, and has prepared the NHS to cope with coronavirus, structural issues remain.

A pluralistic hospital system that endorses competition and patient choice such as the German one seems to be in a much better position to cope with potentially tens of thousands of severe COVID-19 cases.

Yes, also in this comparatively better German hospital system patients die and doctors contract COVID-19. Healthcare workers in Germany are also overwhelmed with the amount of cases and patients. But overall it looks like Germany can endure and face this wave in a much more prepared and resilient fashion compared to the NHS which is still facing huge problems mastering this mammoth task.

After we are all through with this we should not shy away from a debate if it’s not time to open up bigger parts of the NHS hospital systems, allow competition and make the health of British patients a priority.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

EU to retaliate: Last thing we need now is the EU-US trade war

impose tariffs

BRUSSELS – Yesterday, the European Commission announced the European Union will impose tariffs on US exports of lighters, furniture coatings and playing cards. “The EU is adopting measures in reaction to the U.S. extension of its import duties on steel and aluminium to certain derivative products,” a Commission spokesperson told POLITICO.

Counterproductive To Impose Tariffs On US Products?

In response, Luca Bertoletti, Senior European Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center, said that “this move from the Commission is very dangerous. In a moment of crisis such as this, it appears counterproductive to impose tariffs on US products especially since the US is one of the leading partners to fight the battle against COVID-19.

“There is always what’s seen and what’s unseen. By aiming to hit the US where it hurts in a trade war, the EU will end up hurting its own consumers, not only US exporters. A peaceful transatlantic trade dependency, not a destructive trade war should be the way forward,” said Maria Chaplia, CCC European Affairs Associate.

“Trade wars are a lose-lose game. Trade agreements, on the contrary, are not only rewarding because they benefit consumers on both ends, but also because they build bridges of partnership and cooperation between nations. Sometimes victory is about choosing to restrain from retaliation. Especially, when it comes to trade,” concluded Chaplia.

Should the US impose tariffs on the EU, China, Japan or others? Let us know in the comments section.

Originally published here.


About Consumer Choice Center

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Rokok Elektronik, Kesehatan, dan Kebebasan Individu

by Haikal Kurniawan

Rokok elektronik, atau yang akrab disebut vape, saat ini merupakan produk yang sedang mendunia, termasuk di tanah air. Di Indonesia sendiri, menurut laporan dari CNBC Indonesia, ada sekitar 1 juta pengguna vape pada tahun 2019 lalu (CNBC Indonesia, 2019).

Bisnis rokok elektronik di Indonesia juga mampu meraup pendapatan yang besar, hingga 200 miliar sampai 300 miliar setiap bulannya (Mix.co.id). Omset yang besar ini juga berdampak pada cukai yang tinggi, hingga 700 miliar rupiah per November 2019 (Waspada.co.id, 2019).

Banyaknya pengguna vape di Indonesia ini menimbulkan kontroversi. Tidak sedikit pihak yang menentang produk tersebut, dan meminta kepada pemerintah untuk segera melarang peredaran vape. Salah satu penentangan tersebut datang dari Komisi Nasional (Komnas) Pengendalian Tembakau.

Melalui manager komunikasinya, Nina Samidi, Komnas Pengendalian Tembakau menghimbau kepada pemerintah untuk menarik seluruh produk rokok elektronik yang beredar di pasar Indonesia. Selain itu, Badan Pengawas Obat dan Makanan (BPOM) menyatakan bahwa vape merupakan produk yang berbahaya. (Media Indonesia, 2019).

Namun, apakah anggapan ini merupakan sesuatu yang tepat? Mari kita lihat faktanya terlebih dahulu.

Berdasarkan laporan dari organisasi Asosiasi Paru-Paru Amerika (American Lung Association), rokok konvensional, ketika dibakar, menghasilkan lebih dari 7.000 zat kimia. Dari 7.000 zat kimia tersebut, 69 diantaranya telah diidentifikasi sebagai penyebab kanker (American Lung Association, 2019).

Sementara, dua bahan yang paling umum yang digunakan oleh dalam bahan cair vape adalah propylene glycol (PG) dan vegetable glycerin (VG), yang digunakan untuk membuat uap dan perasa. Bahan-bahan ini merupakan sesuatu yang terbukti aman dan merupakan bahan yang umum digunakan di berbagai produk makanan dan minuman seperti soda, es krim, dan produk-produk berbahan dasar susu (Food and Drugs Administration, 2019).

Organisasi pemerhati kesehatan asal Britania Raya misalnya, Public Health England, pada tahun 2015 menyatakan bahwa rokok elektronik 95% lebih aman dibandingkan dengan rokok tembakau konvensional (Public Health England, 2015).  Hal yang sama juga dinyatakan oleh Kementerian Kesehatan New Zealand dan Kanada.

Keduanya menyatakan bahwa rokok elektronik jauh lebih aman daripada rokok konvensional, dan merupakan salah satu solusi terbaik untuk membantu perokok untuk berhenti merokok. Kementerian Kesehatan Kanada misalnya, menyatakan bahwa rokok elektronik jauh lebih aman daripada rokok tembakau konvensional, karena tidak melalui proses pembakaran yang mengeluarkan zat-zat berbahaya yang membuat kanker (Health Canada, 2018).

Lantas bagaimana dengan berbagai kasus kematian yang terjadi di berbagai tempat karena penggunaan vape. Bukankah hal tersebut merupakan bukti bahwa rokok elektronik merupakan sesuatu yang berbahaya?

Di Amerika Serikat misalnya, per Februari 2020, lembaga kesehatan Pemerintah Amerika, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mencatat setidaknya ada 2.800 kasus orang-orang yang dibawa ke rumah sakit karena penggunaan rokok elektronik (CDC, 2020). Adanya kasus tersebut juga merupakan penyebab utama Presiden Donald Trump mengeluarkan peraturan pelarangan produk vape yang memiliki rasa selain menthol dan original, pada bulan Januari 2020 lalu.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Ontario cuts essential workplaces list to limit COVID-19 spread

The Ontario government ordered more workplaces closed — including bricks-and-mortar cannabis shops and some industrial construction sites — in a stepped up campaign to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“We can’t stop now,” Premier Doug Ford said Friday. “There’s 1,600 people out there who need us to do everything we can in the next 30 days to help save them.”

Public health COVID-19 models show that many people could die by the end of the month unless more stringent social distancing measures are taken.

A new list of businesses were ordered to arrange for staff to work remotely or shutter their operations by 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

“All industrial construction except critical industrial projects will stop,” Ford said. “Only necessary infrastructure projects like hospitals and transporation will continue.”

While no new residential construction projects will be allowed to break ground, those already under construction will continue.

Ford said the vast majority of Ontario workers have now been told to stay home.

“We’ve had to shut down most of our economy,” he said.

Businesses that remain open include those that supply essential services, supermarkets, restaurants for take-out or delivery, alcohol stores like the LCBO, pharmacies, gas stations, funeral services, vets for urgent care only, hotels and cheque cashing services.

Insurance, telecommunications, transportation and maintenance services can also continue.

Stores that sell hardware, vehicle parts, pet and animal supplies, office goods and computer products will only be allowed to provide alternative methods of sale such as curb side pick-up or delivery.

David Clement, of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said it was a shame the Ford government is shutting down cannabis retailers.

“This move does nothing but embolden the black market, who will obviously continue to meet consumer demand,” he said in a statement.

The online option for buying from the Ontario Cannabis Store remains available.

Ford said he’s acting on the advice of his Chief Medical Officer of Health in shutting down more sectors of the economy.

However, he said people will still need to access their medication and food.

“As soon as you take that food off the shelves and close down retail you get … anarchy,” Ford said. “You get civil disobedience — people are going to do what they have to do to feed their family — and we don’t want to go to that point.”

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

New York, Texas Ease Alcohol Delivery Law Amid COVID-19 Crisis

A restaurant employee pours a glass of white wine at a table with glasses of red wine.

MOST STATES DON’T ALLOW CONSUMERS TO PURCHASE ALCOHOL ONLINE FOR DELIVERY.

Around the country, law against alcohol delivery are strict, which presents an interesting situation given the mass social isolation from the COVID-19 outbreak. 

According to Consumer Choice Center, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, and New Hampshire are the only states that allow consumers to buy alcohol online and have it delivered to their home. Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah ban all alcohol shipments entirely. All of the other states fall in between in terms of allowing shipments of wine, shipments of alcohol after an in-store purchase, and shipments from wineries in the state. 

“Now is as good a time as any to consider changing these laws and empowering consumers to receive alcohol at home just like any other product,” said Yaël Ossowski, Consumer Choice Center deputy director, in a post on the organization’s website. 

In New York, which now leads the country in the amount of COVID-19 cases, the State Liquor Authority announced a change in the law in which restaurants and bars can sell wine and liquor for takeout or delivery, but the consumer must also purchase food. The change was meant to support restaurants that are facing declining sales due to the statewide closure of dining rooms. Restaurants and bars in New York were already allowed to sell beer for takeout or delivery. 

Following New York’s lead, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday a waiver to allow restaurants and bars to deliver beer, wine, and mixed drinks with the purchase of food. He also told the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to allow businesses to sell back unopened product back to manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. 

In Ohio, no laws have changed, but restaurants and bars have been allowed to return unopened high proof liquor products bought within the past 30 days. The same is true for businesses that had to cancel events between March 12 and April 6. If the gathering ban in Ohio continues past April 6, then Ohio’s regulatory body will continue to allow the return of unopened product. 

More than half of states have closed dining areas and have limited restaurants and bars to takeout and delivery. Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump recommended that people do not gather in groups of more than 10. Meanwhile restaurants nationwide have seen sales plunge, and some foodservice organizations have asked the administration for financial relief. 

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Il Sistema Lombardo Funziona

Nelle ultime settimane la gestione dell’emergenza in Lombardia è stata oggetto di grande dibattito. Le critiche maggiori sono state rivolte al sistema sanitario regionale. Gli aspetti problematici potrebbero, però, risiedere altrove e le cause di una gestione non ottimale andrebbero ricercate più a fondo.


PERCHÈ È IMPORTANTE?   Una polemica oramai quotidiana riguarda il ruolo della sanità privata, soprattutto in Lombardia, e di come il sistema di cooperazione tra strutture pubbliche e private avrebbe fallito. Proviamo a capire se veramente è il sistema sanitario lombardo a non aver funzionato oppure qualcosa d’altro.

LA RIFORMA   La sanità privata è figlia di una riforma voluta dall’allora maggioranza di centrodestra guidata dal Presidente Roberto Formigoni, che pose erogatori privati e pubblici sullo stesso piano, purché il sistema rimanesse universale (tutti i cittadini hanno accesso alle cure nello stesso modo) e solidale (le prestazioni sono pagate dalla fiscalità generale e non direttamente dal singolo paziente).

Per il paziente nulla cambia, ci si può rivolgere agli ospedali pubblici o privati senza distinzione. Al contrario, secondo i dati ANGES – Regione Lombardia del 2018, gli ospedali lombardi sono parimenti nei primi 10 ospedali italiani, come per esempio il San Raffaele di Milano, il San Matteo di Pavia, l’Istituto dei Tumori di Milano e il Papa Giovanni XXIII di Bergamo.

INVESTIMENTI E RICERCA   Inoltre andrebbe considerato che questa competizione tra pubblico e privato ha fatto sì che la spesa sanitaria privata e pubblica dedicata alla ricerca e alla cura della persona crescesse di quasi il 28% annuo (dati UniBocconi), creando centri di eccellenza riconosciuti in tutto il mondo, sia privati sia pubblici, come ad esempio gli Spedali Civili di Brescia, il Gruppo San Donato, Humanitas e tanti altri.

Questo è un tempo di emergenza, come dimostrano le parole di medici ed operatori sanitari che parlano di una vera e propria guerra, guerra nella quale combattono a nostra difesa sia operatori privati sia operatori pubblici.

Gli operatori privati si sono impegnati a mettere a disposizione il proprio personale sanitario nelle strutture pubbliche, nonché le loro stesse strutture. Regione Lombardia ha riorganizzato la rete ospedaliera creando hub specializzati divisi per patologia e prestazione sanitaria, al fine di liberare posti per pazienti COVID-19.

IL PRIVATO FUNZIONA?   Se tutto questo è stato possibile lo si deve anche alla capacità della sanità privata di riorganizzarsi in tempi brevissimi per poter ospitare il maggior numero di pazienti provenienti dalle strutture pubbliche sommerse dall’ondata di pazienti affetti da Coronavirus, spesso fatto senza attingere a risorse pubbliche, come dimostra il nuovo reparto di terapia intensiva realizzato con donazioni private al San Raffaele di Milano. Ovviamente, la sanità privata è in prima linea anche nella gestione diretta di pazienti COVID lombardi, con circa il 30% di quest’ultimi ospitato presso strutture private.

COME LA COREA DEL SUD   Se il sistema è andato in tilt non è per colpa della competizione pubblico privato, la quale ha fatto sì che i lombardi potessero ancora usufruire di cure ospedaliere di qualità, grazie alla maggiore flessibilità della quale l’erogatore privato è portatore. Ad ulteriore prova dell’assoluta bontà dell’apporto privato nella gestione della crisi dovuta al Coronavirus, andrebbe ricordato che il sistema sud-coreano, portato da molti come modello, è costituto per la grande parte da operatori sanitari privati, e dove la ripartizione della spesa sanitaria tra pubblico e privato è quasi paritetica.

Purtroppo, restano le migliaia di morti e quindi la necessità di porsi una domanda: perché la politica lombarda non ha attuato una strategia di contenimento e di prevenzione come quella veneta, fondata su un intervento di test preventivi, che è risultata più efficace? Se finora non lo si è attuato, perché, alla luce degli evidenti risultati, ora non si procede in questa direzione?


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

In Africa, a locust plague is seriously endangering food security

As Europe is dealing with Coronavirus, Africa is looking at the most devastating locust plague in decades, argues Bill Wirtz

Europeans are panic-buying in the supermarkets around the continent – toilet paper, pasta, and many other items that people fear will soon be out of stock. The retailers are being overrun, but the only real shortage is that of staffers bringing stock back into the shelves. The harvest hasn’t been bad, European toilet paper is produced in Europe, and all delivery companies need to do is work extra shifts (not bad news for the workers in these economically unstable times). In comparison to Africa, Europeans don’t need to worry about food supply.

What is happening on the African continent at the moment, surpasses the wildest nightmare of any European consumer, and should give us a moment to think about agricultural technology and crop protection.

Billions of locusts are swarming East Africa and parts of South Asia, in the worst pest swarm in 25 years. These insects eat the equivalent of their own body weight every day, giving them the potential to grow one hundredfold by the month of June. With countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, India, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, and Yemen already massively affected, and the plague able to reach Turkey shortly, this crisis is set to affect a billion people by the end of spring.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has requested aid of $138 million to tackle the crisis, but with COVID-19 paralysing Europe, it is unlikely that the issue will generate much attention in the coming weeks.

In February, China announced that it was sending experts to Pakistan to try and deploy 100,000 ducks to fight locusts. Even though ducks are known to devour more than 200 locusts a day (while chickens only eat 70), an animal-based solution remains dubious at best. A genuine way to fight this plague is chemical crop protection, more specifically insecticides. But that comes with certain political baggage.

In order to fight these insects, farmers in Africa and Asia are using insecticides such as fenitrothion and malathion. Countries such as India have imposed restrictions on these chemicals, allowing use only in times of plagues. The downside of this kind of legislation is that reduced general use creates shortages in times of need – the supply of both conventional and biopesticides is low, as demand is met on specific orders from governments and farmers. In the European Union, the use of fenitrothion and malathion is illegal in all circumstances, which excludes the possibility of quickly supplying farmers in need.

Such crop protection tools are and have long been controversial in Europe. Environmentalist groups have slandered chemicals and their manufacturers in the media, misinforming the public over safety features and the reality of farming. Without pest control, Africa and Asia would have had much more problematic food insecurities in the past. The solution lies in scientific research, and the abilities of farmers to use the tools they need.

Just last month, the Nigerian Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) approved the commercial release of genetically modified cowpea, a variety resistant to the Maruca pod borer, an insect that destroys crops. To combat locusts, genetic engineering is also an important tool: gene editing through CRISPR/Cas9 can fight locust plagues by inducing targeted heritable mutagenesis to the migratory locust. In plain English: gene-editing technology could be used to reduce the number of certain insects that eat crops in Africa and Asia. Genetic engineering will also reduce our need to use certain chemical crop protection tools, which need precise application in order not to pose a threat to human health.

In order for innovation to take place, we need to embrace scientific research, and not stigmatise the use of modern crop protection tools.

There is a growing trend in civil society advocacy that promotes using no pesticides, no synthetic fertilisers, and no genetic engineering. This approach does not reflect the reality of what farmers in many countries in the world need in order to successfully produce food.

As climate change alters areas in which certain insects are present, Europe too will be confronted with this debate in a way that will be politically uncomfortable. In that situation, the ostrich head-in-sand tactic will not be the answer.

We need bold advocates for biotechnology in the interests of farmers and consumers around the world.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Medical homegrowers are supplying the illicit market. Here’s why more policing isn’t the answer

The Consumer Choice Center’s David Clement explains how easing cannabis regulations could help personal growers enter the legal space

In less than two years, cannabis has gone from an illegal product to an essential service during a pandemic. But despite reports of increased sales as consumers stockpile for COVID-19 lockdowns, Canada’s cannabis market is struggling.

We kicked off this year with declining stock prices for licensed cultviators,
stagnant sales and rumours of a pending insolvency crisis for many mediumsized companies. The current coronavirus crisis could make this trend worse as global markets plummet.

There are a lot of reasons why Canada’s cannabis industry stumbled out of
the gate. Poor retail access, specifically Ontario; over-regulation and high tax rates. And establishing brand awareness in a market that prevents even the most modest forms of advertising and branding is challenging.

But there’s an additional factor at play: The program for growing medical
cannabis for personal use is undermining the legal market and fueling the
illicit market. Far more cannabis is being grown than medical cannabis consumers require — and some of that cannabis is being sold on the illicit
market. I’d like to propose a few potential solutions.

Breaking down the numbers

As a result of several Supreme Court rulings, medical cannabis consumers
have the constitutional right to grow their own medicine and can apply to do so through Health Canada.

The latest figures show that there are 28,869 Canadians who have their determined by Health Canada. Medical consumers are generally authorized
to consume between five and 60 grams of cannabis per day.

We don’t have national data, but general trends can be extrapolated from
provincial data. Via an access to information request, the average permit holder in Manitoba is authorized to consume 18 g/day, which entitles them to grow 88 indoor plants per year.

Quebec’s data is nearly double that of Manitoba: A 30 g/day average entitles
a medical consumer to grow 146 indoor cannabis plants each year. If we take provincial figures and forecast them on a national scale, permit
holders are growing a staggering amount of cannabis. Each indoor plant can produce between 250-600 grams per harvest, of which there are usually
three per year. One outdoor plant, with only one harvest, can yield as much
as 1.8 kg/year. A conservative estimate? The average Manitoba permit
holder could grow up to 66,000 grams (or 66 kg) of cannabis annually.

Rather than trying to arrest their way out of the problem, the government should focus on transitioning permit holder growers into the legal market

Applying that math to all Canadian permit holders would mean that in 2019, they grew an estimated 1.9 million kilograms of cannabis — approximately 158,000 kg — per month. Compare that to the legal recreational industry’s output: In August of 2019, the total amount of all legal recreational cannabis available for sale was 61,000 kg. Medical permit growers in Canada could be growing 2.5 times more cannabis than is legally available for sale in the recreational market. If Quebec’s figures are more representative of the national average, these growers would be growing 4.5 times more cannabis than is legally available.

Permit holders are growing more than then they need for personal
consumption. At 18 grams per day, a permit holder would need 6,570 grams
annually, while being permitted to produce more than 66,000 grams a year.
So where does most of the excess cannabis end up? The illicit market: York
Region Police’s recent bust showed that criminal networks were abusing the Health Canada permit process. The same thing happened
recently in Alberta, where a biker gang bust showed that illicit cannabis was grown by a Health Canada permit holder.

Either organized crime is taking advantage of Health Canada’s process, or
permit holders are enticed to sell their excess cannabis to criminals so it can be resold. This is part of the reason why the legal recreational market hasn’t truly materialized.

Increased policing isn’t the answer

But the government shouldn’t target legitimate permit holders. Doing so
would violate their constitutional rights, and would be exceptionally cruel
given how marginalized this group has historically been. Rather than trying
to arrest their way out of the problem, the government should focus on
transitioning permit holder growers into the legal market. A first step for this transition would be to restructure the regulations for growing cannabis.

Right now, licensed producers (LPs) have to comply with nearly pharmagrade regulations. Instead, they should more closely resemble food grade production standards. This would give medical permit-holders a realistic shot at earning a micro-cultivator licence and entering the legal market. It would also benefit existing producers by reducing compliance costs.

There are a few onerous barriers permit holders have to jump over that could be eased to help transition them into the legal space: The security clearance process is one, but we could also be easing facility regulations, reducing licensing fees, reducing the batch test minimum of 100 g/batch, or fast tracking the licensing and renovation amendment timelines. This would clear a path for these growers to enter the legal market and incentivize them away from the illicit market.

To say Canada’s legalization process thus far has been messy would be an
understatement. At almost every turn the government has over-regulated
the legal market, which is what keeps the illicit market thriving. Easing these heavy-handed regulations could bring more growers into the legal sphere and make for a more consumer-friendly market all around.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

War on Plastic Makes the Virus Worse

Despite the rapid spread of COVID-19, New York City is still waging its war on water bottles and plastic bags. Early last month NYC’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, signed an executive order banning the sale of water bottles at city facilities. On top of that, NYC moved to ban plastic bags at the end of February.

The first major flaw in continuing the war on plastic is that it undoubtedly makes the COVID-19 pandemic worse. For weeks, residents have been using these publicly owned facilities without the option of being able to purchase a water bottle, and have been shopping without the option of getting a plastic bag.

Both reusable bottles and reusable tote bags present a huge risk in terms of COVID-19 because eliminating them exponentially increases the number of source points for virus exposure. An exposed filling station at a community facility could rapidly spread the virus to hundreds, while it is already known that reusable bags carry significant risks for cross-contamination.

These bans are also misguided when we evaluate them in terms of environmental effect. First off, water bottles are 100 percent recyclable. All the city has to do to ensure that these bottles are disposed of properly is not wave the white flag and give up. It doesn’t make any sense to try to curb the sale of products that can be fully recycled, especially when the city has a recycling program in place.

In regards to plastic bags, conventional thinking suggests that banning plastic bags will result in people using reusable bags and that this reduction in plastic use will have a positive effect on the environment. Research from Denmark’s Ministry of the Environment actually challenged that conventional wisdom when it sought to compare the total effect of plastic bags to their reusable counterparts.

The Danish government found that alternatives to plastic bags came with significant negative environmental effects. For example, common paper bag replacements need to be reused 43 times to have the same total impact as a plastic bag. A conventional cotton bag alternative needs to be used more than 7,100 times to equal a plastic bag, while an organic cotton bag has to be reused more than 20,000 times.

We know from consumer usage patterns that the likelihood of paper or cotton alternatives being used in such a way is incredibly unlikely. These results were also confirmed with the United Kingdom’s own life-cycle assessment, which concluded that these alternatives have a significantly higher total effect on the environment.

On top of all that, these bans will ultimately do little to solve the serious problem of plastic waste in the world’s oceans and rivers. The United States as a whole contributes less than 1 percent of the world’s mismanaged plastic waste. Up to 95 percent of all plastic found in the world’s oceans comes from just 10 source rivers, which are all in the developing world.

In contrast, countries like Indonesia and the Philippines contribute 10.1 percent and 5.9 percent of the world’s mismanaged plastic. China, the world’s largest plastics polluter, accounts for 27.7 percent of the world’s mismanaged plastic.

Plastic bans might sound productive to stem plastic pollution, but the evidence doesn’t suggest that the United States is a significant contributor for mismanaged plastic, which means that a New York City ban will do little to actually reduce plastic pollution.

Good public policy should be measured on its outcomes. Banning water bottles and plastic bags makes COVID-19 exposure worse in the middle of a global pandemic, promotes alternatives that have serious negative environmental externalities, and does little to solve the issue of mismanaged plastic.

For the sake of everyone involved, Mayor de Blasio should end his war on plastics.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

LES ENFANTS D’ABORD!

Alors que la chloroquine a relancé le débat sur les protocoles et les publications médicales, une prestigieuse revue scientifique s’intéresse à tout autre chose…

Un récent rapport de la revue scientifique The Lancet, « A Future for the World’s Children? » [« Un avenir pour les enfants du monde ? », NDLR.], est une fois de plus une apologie en faveur de l’Etat-nounou. Ne souffrant aucune remise en question, cette publication en devient une véritable parodie.

Ces dernières années, The Lancet a eu la réputation d’approuver certaines des politiques les plus interventionnistes et paternalistes qui soient. Des restrictions publicitaires à la taxation des boissons sucrées, pour The Lancet, il n’existe pas de sujet où l’Etat ne doit pas intervenir pour éduquer ou punir la population… pour son propre bien.

Dans un récent numéro, la revue médicale s’attaque à la publicité pour les enfants, qu’elle considère comme une menace majeure.

Jeune public

Dans ce rapport, le rédacteur en chef du Lancet, Richard Horton, s’adresse aux décideurs politiques dans un communiqué de presse en disant que le marketing pour les cigarettes, les cigarettes électroniques, l’alcool et la malbouffe aggrave les problèmes de santé publique.

Le rapport demande l’ajout d’un protocole facultatif à la convention des Nations unies relative aux droits de l’enfant, qui obligerait les gouvernements à réglementer ou à interdire la publicité des boissons sucrées et de l’alcool qui serait susceptible d’être vue auprès d’un jeune public.

Horton explique :

« Nous vivons dans une économie basée sur les énergies fossiles, la consommation et la production, qui crée les conditions qui vont nuire à la santé des enfants. […] Je pense qu’aucun d’entre nous ne souhaite que cela soit le monde que nous sommes en train de créer. »

L’affirmation du Lancet selon laquelle les entreprises commercialisent délibérément des aliments malsains et d’autres vices aux enfants est difficile à saisir. En lisant ce genre de commentaires, les lecteurs pourraient se demander si les compagnies de tabac ne chercheraient pas à glisser leurs cigarettes directement dans les poussettes. Rien de tel ne s’est évidemment produit jusqu’à présent.

Le Lancet condamne également le fait que les enfants soient soumis à la publicité pour l’alcool lors des manifestations sportives. Il explique que lors des spots publicitaires lors d’émissions sportives, il y a régulièrement des publicités pour la bière ou les spiritueux, qui sont vues par des enfants alors que ces produits leur sont interdits.

En substance, les chercheurs affirment que TOUTE publicité susceptible d’être vue par un enfant ne devrait pas contenir de produits dangereux. Ce qui signifie que mise à part quelques rares exceptions, comme les projections dans les salles de cinéma pour les plus de 18 ans, cette interdiction frapperait la quasi-totalité des publicités.

Stop à la condescendance

Il est également absurde que The Lancet s’oppose à la publicité pour les produits à risques réduits tels que les cigarettes électroniques.

En effet, les recherches de ce même journal ont montré que dans certaines régions du monde (comme la Nouvelle-Zélande) la vape a remplacé le tabagisme chez les jeunes, pour un bénéfice sanitaire évident.

De plus, en dehors des nouvelles plateformes et des réseaux sociaux, les publicitaires ne peuvent guère discriminer leurs audiences. Ces interdictions n’auraient pour seul effet que de réduire grandement les revenus des supports publicitaires traditionnels (journaux, affiches, cinéma…), déjà en grande difficulté, au profit des grandes entreprises de l’internet.

Dans l’ensemble, les consommateurs ne devraient pas être traités avec condescendance par des interdictions de publicité. C’est le rôle des parents et des services scolaires d’apprendre aux enfants à faire la part des choses et à devenir des êtres autonomes et responsables. L’idée de donner de tels pouvoirs au gouvernement revient à chercher à maintenir les citoyens dans l’enfance et l’irresponsabilité.

Suivre les conseils du Lancet, c’est avant tout suivre une position idéologique en faveur de la création d’un Etat paternaliste « omniscient », dont l’objectif est de réduire la liberté de choix des consommateurs.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

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