Pubdate: Wed, 13 Dec 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Cheryl Chan
Page: 8


The B.C. government says revenue from legalized marijuana isn't going
to create the financial windfall many expected once the province's
thriving but illicit industry moves out of the shadows and is taxed
like tobacco.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Carole James cautioned against

"There will be revenue coming in after the first couple of years, but
I don't see it as a big money-maker for British Columbia," James said
at an editorial board meeting with The Vancouver Sun and The Province.

James just returned from a federal-provincial ministers meeting in
Ottawa where the federal government announced Monday it will give
provinces and territories 75 per cent of the excise tax on
recreational pot, up from an initially proposed 50/50 split.

The remaining 25 per cent - to a maximum of $100 million a year -
stays with the federal government. Legalized pot is expected to
generate about $400 million in total tax revenues over the first two

The B.C. government has not factored revenue from marijuana into its
February budget, and expects it will pay upfront costs for
distribution, sale, enforcement and education.

James said precise figures on costs are not yet available as it
depends on the retail model - something Solicitor-General Mike
Farnworth said the government will unveil by early February.

Municipalities, which have been clamouring for funding to offset costs
of legalization, would get funding from the province, but won't follow
a set formula.

"It's not going to be how much of the 75 per cent," James said. "It'll
be more of a conversation of what are the responsibility areas
municipalities will be taking on, and how we can make sure the
resources are there."

James also responded to concerns by provincial health officer Perry
Kendall and Marcus Lem, chair of the Health Officers Council of B.C.,
about the health risks posed by selling marijuana at liquor stores.

In a letter to the editor, the health officials said co-location could
promote the co-use of both substances, increasing the likelihood of
more impaired driving, and could lead to more people being introduced
to the drug.

The letter also said the direction of alcohol policy in B.C. is "to
increase acceptability and access," which goes against the principle
of protecting public health and safety built into the proposed
marijuana regulation.

"We've seen people who have expressed that concern," said James on
co-location, which has the support of the B.C. Government and Service
Employees' Union and the Alliance of Beverage Licensees.

Farnworth will take the province's health officials feedback into
account when he puts together the retail model, James said.

James also offered some clues on what's in store in the upcoming
February budget.

Housing will figure prominently, with the rollout of a comprehensive
housing strategy.

All measures are still on the table, including the foreign homebuyers
tax, a speculation tax, more purpose-built rentals, or policies that
promote densification or curb Airbnb and short-term rentals, said James.

The new budget will also have a commitment to the NDP's $10-a-day
child care plan.
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