Pubdate: Sat, 11 Nov 2017
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Mia Rabson
Page: FP 12


Ottawa and the provinces and territories could have another $1 billion
a year in tax revenues to split after pot becomes legal next year.

Liberal MP Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief and the
government's point man on legalizing marijuana, made public the
federal tax proposal for legal pot Friday, kicking off a period of
public consultations that ends Dec. 7.

That, Blair said, gives the government just enough time to solicit
comments on the proposal so that federal, provincial and territorial
finance ministers can discuss it when they meet in Ottawa Dec. 1011.

The plan would add an excise tax of $1 per gram of marijuana or 10 per
cent of the final retail price, whichever is higher, with the revenues
to be divided equally between Ottawa and the provinces and

The final price, including provincial and federal sales taxes, would
vary by jurisdiction, since the combined total is in some provinces is
higher than in others. On an $8 gram of pot sold in Ontario, for
instance, the final purchase price would be $10.17, with a $1 excise
tax and $1.17 HST. In New Brunswick, it would be $10.35. Alberta,
which has no provincial sales taxes, could see the cheapest pot in the
country at just $9.45 total for an $8 gram of weed.

"I'm very comfortable that the level of taxation that has been
determined as appropriate in this case achieves our goals of keeping
the price sufficiently low to be competitive with an illicit market,
while at the same time not creating an incentive for the consumption
and purchase of this drug," said Blair.

"It's a matter of finding the right level of taxation and price in
order to achieve both of those very important public purpose aims. I
believe that the work that we have done sets a very appropriate level."

Blair gave $1 billion a year as a very rough estimate of how much
Canada and provinces stand to raise from the plan, although that
number is at the high end of the scale, he warned, since so much
depends on just how many people will end up buying marijuana once it
becomes legal.

"We're working very closely right now to determine what the size of
that market will be," he said, adding that determining the market is
very difficult, but the tax will end up being between one-fifth and
one-quarter of the final price, with tax revenues to be split 50-50
with the provinces and territories.

"The market is currently controlled almost 100 per cent by criminals,"
Blair said. "It's an illicit market. Quite frankly, they don't share a
lot of data on the size of their market, so right now we're operating
on estimates."

The taxes would be levied on both on fresh and dried marijuana, pot-
infused oils and seeds and seedlings used for home cultivation.
Revenues would be used for public education, research, enforcement and
other activities around the regulation and administration of legal

The 50-50 tax revenue split idea has already rankled at least one
premier - B.C.'s John Horgan - who complained that the provinces won't
be getting a fair share, considering they will be doing the bulk of
the heavy lifting on legalization, including policing, distributing
and regulating the sale of marijuana.
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