Pubdate: Mon, 21 Dec 2015
Source: News, The (New Glasgow, CN NS)
Copyright: 2015 Transcontinental Inc.
Page: 6


It would be tempting to let expectations grow by leaps and bounds. 
But it's more prudent to be realistic when it comes to the 
prospective tax revenues from legalized marijuana.

As the federal government appears still on track with this plan, 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he believes legal sales might 
result in a bit of revenue for the government, but not a financial 
windfall. He said tax raised from this product would largely go 
toward addiction treatment and support programs - presumably 
including programs involving abuse of other substances and other 
forms of addiction, too.

And that's the way it should be. While many speculate that making 
recreational marijuana legally available through restricted sales 
will deliver a cash cow, we've been down this road many times before.

Trudeau added that this move has always been about public health and 
safety, by taking a lucrative product already widely available out of 
the hands of criminals in favour of controlled, legal sales.

These comments from the prime minister will have some recalling 
concerns elsewhere in the realm of sin taxes.

Canadians have a number of legal vices available, including but not 
limited to cigarettes, booze and gambling.

Consider for a moment criticisms often levelled in Nova Scotia in 
regard to gambling, often focusing on the video lottery terminals.

While the availability of gambling has revolved through governments 
of all stripes, the province has continued to derive tax revenues 
from the activity.

More strident critics claim the bulk of the money in gambling is 
spent by people who can't afford it - and who, in some cases, are 
sadly addicted.

The government claims that a portion of the tax collected does indeed 
go toward treatment of problem gamblers, although, we must 
acknowledge, not everyone agrees it's enough.

The prospect of getting rid of an activity such as gambling, which 
carries high risk? Well, governments of all stripes can't seem to go 
clean from such a ready, steady stream of revenue.

The sickness of tobacco addiction raises similar concerns - revenues 
raised on a product that is a significant factor in higher health costs.

Of course long after governments started regulating sales and 
charging tax on such products as alcohol and tobacco, support 
programs for addiction treatment and cessation were the afterthought. 
We've been there, done that.

It's wise to put the horse before the cart this time around.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom