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Ottawa doesn’t know how it will tax marijuana – yet

Taxation ‘subsidiary’ to focus on making sure weed stays out of the hands of children and criminals, says finance minister


 
Blair Gable

Blair Gable

OTTAWA – The Trudeau government is still wrestling with how to tax recreational pot, even as it indicates it’s poised to introduce long-awaited legalization legislation next month in advance of April 20 — the “Weed Day” popularly known as 4/20.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Monday that the feds “haven’t made enough progress” in terms of taxing marijuana and several other issues related to legalizing the drug.

The focus has instead been on making sure weed stays out of the hands of children and criminals, Morneau said during a news conference in Calgary.

“Those are our two key goals as we move forward,” he said.

“The issue around taxation, any of those issues, are very subsidiary to those first two goals, and we’ve not yet gotten to conclusions on those sort of aspects at this time.”

MORE: To understand the pot file, you must get to know Bill Blair—the Liberal in charge

News of the pending legislation — the timing of which, media reports suggest, means recreational pot would be fully legal by July 1, 2018 — pushed up share prices Monday for the country’s large marijuana producers.

Shares of Canopy Growth Corp. closed 11 per cent higher after gaining $1.10 to $10.98 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Aphria finished 8.39 per cent higher at $6.72 per share, a gain of 52 cents.

Yet Morneau’s comments suggest at least one key issue remains far from resolved, despite the fact multiple government sources confirmed Monday that the government plans to introduce the bill during the week of April 10.

And the timing has at least one critic suggesting the Liberal government is more interested in placating marijuana users, who famously gather around the world each April 20 — including on Parliament Hill — to indulge in their favourite strain and flout the law in jurisdictions where it’s illegal.

“This is a totally arbitrary timeline,” said Conservative health critic Colin Carrie.

“(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) is more interested in pandering to the marijuana users than doing his job and looking after the health and safety of Canadians.”

RELATED: Legalizing weed: how Uruguay tripped up

This year’s 4/20 gathering was expected to become a massive — and highly visible — protest against a Liberal government already known for breaking or stalling a number of high-profile campaign promises, including electoral reform.

The Liberals made the legalization of marijuana a key promise in their election platform in 2015, which was followed by the appointment of a high-level task force to study the issue.

The task force, led by former cabinet minister Anne McLellan, recommended storefront and mail-order sales to people 18 and older, personal growing limits of four plans per person and a 30-gram limit on personal possession.

Several provincial leaders said Monday that they are eagerly waiting to see what the federal legislation looks like so that they can start working to amend their own laws to make legal weed a reality.

Yet they also sounded a note of caution, noting there are many issues still to be worked out before Canadians can start buying marijuana over the counter.

Those include how to distribute the drug, establishing new rules around impaired driving, determining acceptable levels of pesticides and other impurities, and ensuring adequate addiction support.

“We are aware that there are a number of complex issues that have to be accommodated by the provinces once this legislation goes through,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

“We need to consult with Albertans and we have to know exactly what the federal legislation looks like before we can figure out what our path looks like after that.”

RELATED: How businesses are anticipating recreational marijuana

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he was generally in favour of legalization, but worried it could saddle the provinces with extra financial costs in terms of testing or awareness campaigns.

Asked if it could prove an economic boon for the provinces, Couillard said: “It’s too early to say, but it certainly won’t be driving the economies of outlying regions in the next few years.”

NDP justice critic Alistair MacGregor said it’s about time the Liberals moved forward on legalization, adding that his concern is many more Canadians could be arrested for possession before it happens.

— With files from Joan Bryden in Ottawa, Tim Cook in Edmonton and Donald McKenzie in Montreal


 

Ottawa doesn’t know how it will tax marijuana – yet

  1. That’ll be the day when we can’t figure out how to tax something.

    Get ON with it.

    • Cash Cows are usually easy to tax, look how easy it is to tax booze, gas, cigs. and junk food, just like they do with utilities, everyone complains, but people still seem to consume more. Oh, how i opine for the days of $20 lids, Panama Red..

  2. It’s going to be difficult for the Conservatives to explain to Canadians that they are going to be shutting down the legalization of Pot if they are elected in 2019, once the pot law is in force in 2018, or they are going to have to do a lot of explaining to the base, of why it shouldn’t be shut down, the rest of the country is going to be another story. This should be fun. The liberals are exposing the big weaknesses in the conservative party, Bill M-103 and legalization are the 2 biggest boils on the asses of the conservatives party, but no one in the conservative party wants to lance them. Kevin O’leary and Micheal Chong(can handle Chong, but not O’leary) will not be the next new leader of the conservative party, Harper will keep control of his old party, so that means status quo for 2019. Harper is still the puppet master, and these guys are still the seals, he has a few horses in the race, both Sheer and O’toole, Harper groomed these guys. Nothing would give Harper more pleasure than to take back the government by all means. Micheal Chong will either retire from politics, or cross the floor to the liberals, he will not tolerate another 4 years in the nosebleed section or the hinterland of the HOCs, he knows he has potential for higher office, and his best chance would be the grits. He(Chong) would make a fine trophy on the front bench for the grits.

    • Just to add, this is good timing for the liberals to make this announcement especially with voting coming up on the by elections, it may eat into some votes out west for the grits. It would turn the Conservative party into a ‘Tizz’, if Trudeau came in and stole another seat from the conservatives in Alberta, the real trophies would Harper and Kenny’s seats, it would be almost a good as winning the Stanley Cup for the Grits.

  3. I wonder how Patrick Brown and his party feel about legalizing Pot, haven’t quit heard any opinion from him on this, after all he was a part of law enforcement. time to road test him on Legalized Pot.

  4. Along with adult use of marijuana comes responsibility. This includes NOT driving. Sadly there are far to many who elect to drive with marijuana use and this has deadly consequences. In the US the states of CO and WA had a doubling of fatal deaths where the driver tested positive to marijuana alone. The state of OR did not have the same dramatic death rate. It did go up. Education and having significantly more professionally trained law officers in the detection of drug impairment were key in keeping the death rate down. Until we have sensitive, objective and accurate tests of function our community protectors are the best defense against irresponsible behaviors of those driving after marijuana use. IMMAD – Impairment Measurement Marijuana and Driving is a simple, objective, short and sensitive test under development for officer use. It tests retinal dysfunction. The science is complex, the test is not. The preliminary data demonstrate sensitivity and the research is being presented at a research conference held at Harvard University. The professionals in the field charged with protecting our families, roads and communities need resources (first place the tax dollars from marijuana should go is to law enforcement) and training. We believe IMMAD will be part of the solution. But until IMMAD hits the market, training and education are key.

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