Anyone hoping to see marijuana tax revenue listed in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first federal budget was disappointed. Finance Minister Bill Morneau's fiscal forecast doesn't mention a single dollar coming from legal cannabis. But does that mean that legalization is off the table for 2016?
To find out, we contacted a few experts and asked if they were surprised by the omission, and if they think we'll have to wait until 2017 (at the earliest) for legal recreational marijuana.
Here's what they said.
Mike Moffatt, Professor of Economics
"I wasn't too surprised there were no references to marijuana in the budget," Moffatt - an assistant professor of business, economics and public policy at the Ivey School of Business - told Civilized. "My understanding is they are still consulting with stakeholders (including the provinces). Given these ongoing consultations I would be surprised if legalization occurred this year."
Lisa Campbell, Women Grow
"I'm not surprised that the federal budget doesn't mention cannabis, as it's only legal for scientific and medical purposes internationally," Campbell - the chair of Women Grow Toronto - told Civilized. "Canada just addressed the United Nations announcing their plan to legalize cannabis for adult use this month. I think the Liberals would receive harsh criticism if they banked on cannabis to balance the budget."
But she thinks the government could still surprise us this year: "Alternatively, if cannabis is legalized quietly in the next six months it will generate future positive headlines."
Craig Jones, NORML Canada
"Not surprised, no." Jones - the executive director of NORML Canada - told Civilized. "Cannabis legalization should - if they do it right - be a revenue generator. And the Trudeau Liberals are returning to a Paul Martin device, which is to deliver soft numbers in the expectation that the hard numbers will be better news. Under-promise and over-deliver."
Jones doesn't rule out legalization in 2016, but he thinks there are more pressing marijuana-related issues for the government to address right now.
"What NORML is more concerned about is the ongoing prosecution of cannabis possessors using the Harper regime's draconian mandatory minimum laws. We are calling for an immediate armistice on all ongoing cannabis possession prosecutions where these do not involve violence, guns or other criminal code offences."