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Big Tobacco Is Complaining That Canadian Government Is Being Too Nice to Marijuana Companies

Canada is set to legalize recreational marijuana in 2018, and most people are pretty psyched about it. But there's one group that doesn't like it at all: Big Tobacco.

Vice ran a story about how Big Tobacco is mad at the Canadian government for offering marijuana companies benefits that they don't receive.

“We do not understand why the same principle, of a low tax for marijuana, is not being applied to tobacco,” Jorge Araya, President and CEO of Imperial Tobacco Canada, told Vice. “Right now, 70 percent of the price of a cigarette goes to the government. It’s absolutely draconian.”

The latest proposal by the Canadian government would put the tax on marijuana at 10 percent for all sales of more than $10. In comparison, a carton of cigarettes costs $100 in Canada, and 66 percent of which is taxes. 

The Canadian government is putting such low taxes on marijuana so that the price of cannabis is on par with the prices in the black market. Taxing marijuana too highly would push customers back into the black market, which is exactly what the whole point of the legislation is trying to prevent. Tobacco companies, however, claim that same rationale is not being used for them as the high taxes on their products have pushed people into the black market as well.

"We estimate that about 30 percent of cigarettes in Canada are contraband… just go to Northern Ontario, illegal tobacco is grown everywhere,” Araya said to Vice. “There is a black market for cigarettes because the taxes are very high.”

Government estimates put the number closer to 20 percent.

Another issue is over branding. Under Canadian law, tobacco companies must use plain packaging for their products so they won't appeal to children. Meanwhile, some Canadian politicians have said they'd be open to marijuana companies using some sort of branding for their products.

Big Tobacco is basically trying to say that marijuana is just as dangerous as their products and yet it's not being treated the same, when that's simply not true. There is no research that demonstrates that smoking marijuana is anywhere near as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. 

Sounds like Big Tobacco is just looking for more ways to play the victim.

To read more about Big Tobacco's problems with Canadian marijuana legalization, head over to Vice.


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