Provincial governments across Canada feel slighted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cannabis tax plan.
Trudeau has proposed a 10 percent tax on cannabis sales, the revenues of which would be split with the provinces. But premiers believe their share should be larger, arguing that they’ll be footing most of the bill when it comes to implementing nationwide cannabis legalization next July.
In Trudeau’s proposal, each gram of cannabis would have a tax of $1 on sales up to $10 and a 10 percent tax on sales worth more than $10. The tax revenues would be divided 50-50 with the provinces.
B.C. Premier John Horgan admitted the proposal “caught us a bit by surprise.”
“I think many Canadians believe if we can tax this product, we’re going to be swimming in cash but that’s just not been the experience in the United States. It’s not likely to be the experience here,” said Horgan.
“We really don’t know what the ramifications are of this. This is a historic change. We don’t know the real costs. We do know the lion’s share of the work and expenses will be borne by provinces,” added Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister. “We might be splitting a cost, not a net proceed,” Pallister said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called Trudeau’s proposal “the beginning of a discussion.”
“We are looking at this through the lens of public safety and health and undermining the black market,” said Wynne.
For his part, Trudeau said he has heard the provincial governments’ concerns “loud and clear.”
“There are significant new costs going to be associated with bringing in a framework and legalized regime like this,” Trudeau said.
“We recognize that this is something that still requires much discussion with the provinces on levels of excise tax, on revenue sharing but mostly on the work we need to do to make sure this gets done right.
“I would like to reassure you. The objective around the table is not to want to make lots of money by legalizing marijuana.”
h/t Toronto Star