plan B was if Canadians continued buying cannabis from the black market. Trudeau naturally migrated towards the familiar example of booze: “currently, there is no black market for alcohol.”
While it’s true that most people won’t get solicited in the street by bootleggers in stained trench coats, an underground market does exist. There are plenty of ways to buy liquor outside the purview of our provincial monopolies if you know where to look. As just one example, there’s an active Facebook page for ordering illegal alcohol outside of the SAQ’s hours of operation at a hefty markup; it has over 61,000 members. The Quebec government estimates that it loses $90 million per year in revenue from people buying their liquor outside of its control, either illegally or otherwise.
But the next thought that came out of Trudeau’s mouth is more interesting: “you can make [alcohol] at home if you want”, Trudeau said, but added that most choose to buy it from established sources.
Hipsters can and do indeed brew beer and make wine from the comfort of their own homes, but provincial legislation across Canada prohibits the unlicensed distillation of alcohol, as does the federal Excise Act. You can ferment whatever the hell you want, as long as you don’t try to heat the inebriating substance and turn the vapours into something more potent.
Moonshining typically draws up images of blind hillbillies concocting bathtub hooch in the woods, yet the anachronism isn’t appropriate for the twenty-first century. Contemporary technology removes much of the worry over homemade liquor – you can easily test for the presence of methanol and other non-potable compounds and operate an alembic safely. And far from a rickety concoction of home-welded tanks and pipes, modern distilling equipment is carefully crafted scientific equipment. Is it foolproof? Nothing is, but stills are no more dangerous – and likely safer – than pressure cookers and deep fryers, already omnipresent in the nation’s kitchens.