Trudeau Wants To Keep The Taxes Down On Canada’s Legal Weed

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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As the federal Canadian finance minister meets with his provincial counterparts, concerns are mounting about how legalized marijuana will be implemented and how much it will be taxed.

The Trudeau Liberals don’t want it taxed too excessively so that Canadians don’t opt for black market weed — though that has many people wondering what is the point of legalization. The government has promised to offer legal marijuana by July 2018, though it has released few details on how it will be sold and the provinces fear that they will be assuming most of the responsibility for monitoring the drug’s production, sale and use.

The subject of how taxes should be applied to cannabis is a subject of discussion at Monday’s meeting. The provincial finance ministers want to know what constitutes “low taxes,” whether the federal government will enforce a tax or merely provide a recommendation and how the revenues will be shared between the two levels of government.

Finance Minster Bill Morneau would only say in a news release that the two-day conference in Ottawa will examine a “co-ordinated approach to the taxation of cannabis.”

That hasn’t satisfied the provincial critics who see the legalization scheme as half-baked. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said the provinces will be doing all the “heavy lifting” while Quebec Public Health Minister Lucile Charlebois has publicly said she doesn’t believe the revenues are going to be sufficient to cover the cost associated with regulations the drug.

Not that there is much provincial opposition to legalization per se, just the work involved. Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa articulated that concern when he told CTV News, “There’s going to be a lot of requirements on behalf of the provinces.”

Everyone is concerned about the cost of addiction so federal Health Minister Jane Philpott has made some noises about “committing resources” for additional policing and education programs.

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