Pubdate: Thu, 05 Oct 2017
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Philip Authier
Page: A2


Coderre says city also entitled to a share to finance resources that
will be needed

Left holding the bag on the costs of implementing the policy, Quebec
says it wants more than 50 per cent of potential cannabis excise tax

"It won't be 50-50," Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao told
reporters on his way out of a cabinet meeting. "This is just the
opening shot. It will not be that at the end of the day."

A cautious Leitao refused to say what level of revenue will satisfy
Quebec, noting that the actual price per gram - especially in the
state-run system the provinces are creating to undercut organized
crime - has yet to be determined.

"We want to make sure the system, whatever it will be at the end, is
flexible enough because we all understand that the price that will be
set on day one will probably not be the same as on day 35 or day 62."

Leitao was responding to a surprise move by Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau on Tuesday. At a meeting of the premiers in Ottawa, Trudeau
announced plans to impose a 10 per cent federal excise tax on
recreational marijuana. The expected new revenue would be split 50-50
with the provinces.

The provinces, including Quebec led by Premier Philippe Couillard,
argued the formula is unacceptable because the provinces are bearing
most of the costs.

Leitao made it clear even if Ottawa's plan legalizing marijuana kicks
in July 1, 2018, there is time to negotiate a proper financial
agreement. The goal is to ink one when Canada's finance ministers meet
in December.

Like the other provinces, Quebec has been wrestling with the
consequences of the policy for several months.

Although the final vision will be spelled out in a bill to be tabled
by Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois later this month, it is
believed Quebec will opt for a tightly run state-distribution and
sales system.

Quebec wants the legal age to buy pot to be 18. Ontario has opted for
age 19. On Wednesday, Alberta also said the age should be 18. Ontario
is looking at having its state-run system charge about $10 a gram.
Quebec has not set its price yet.

In the National Assembly on Wednesday, however, the opposition
Coalition Avenir Quebec resumed its charge on the age issue, calling
on the government to make it 21. The CAQ quotes studies from experts
showing young brains are severely affected by cannabis.

Meanwhile, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre on Wednesday also stepped up,
reiterating his demand that the city also is entitled to its share of
any revenue.

"I understand that Prime Minister Trudeau was talking about the issue
of marijuana," Coderre said during a meeting of the city's executive
committee. "That there could be a tax, we're talking $1, and it would
be (split) 50-50 with the provinces.

"I just want it remembered that with all of the impacts (legal
marijuana) will have at the municipal level … municipalities also want
some part of that (tax) to finance the resources that will be required."

Under the federal proposal put to premiers during a first ministers
meeting, each gram of pot would be subject to an excise tax of $1 on
sales up to $10 and a 10-per-cent tax on sales of more than $10.

Trudeau said the costs of legalization, the level of taxation on
marijuana and revenue sharing are all still matters under negotiation
with the provinces and emphasized the goal of legalization is not to
make money.

He said all first ministers agree that the priority is to keep
marijuana out of the hands of kids and out of the control of criminal
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