Pubdate: Wed, 20 Dec 2017
Source: Western Star, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2017 The Western Star
Page: 4


A Corporate Research Associates (CRA) survey last week probably sent
chills down the spines of finance ministers and premiers in Atlantic
Canada. After they left Ottawa earlier in the week with a lucrative
tax-sharing deal on the sale of legalized marijuana, their visions of
windfall revenues were quickly dashed with a reality check.

The CRA survey suggests that 20 per cent of Atlantic Canadians plan to
buy pot once it becomes legal July 1. It's about the same percentage
that uses pot today - illegally.

So, it looks like everybody won't be getting stoned. Most people who
shun pot today will still avoid it next July. The obvious difference
is that the 20 per cent of the population who use pot will be able to
buy it at government-approved outlets, and the revenue will benefit
the public purse instead of drug dealers.

For the first time, a slim majority of Atlantic residents (53 per
cent) supports legalization of marijuana for personal use, but only 15
per cent of Prince Edward Islanders indicated they plan to use
marijuana when it becomes legal. The numbers are only slightly higher
elsewhere in the region, with Nova Scotia at 19 per cent, New
Brunswick at 20 and Newfoundland and Labrador at 23. Granted, the
survey was asking people about their pot use when marijuana was still

The federal government was off base with its initial offer of a 50-50
split of excise taxes with the provinces. Ottawa passed legislation to
legalize pot and then unfairly dumped the costs of enforcement,
distribution, education and treatment onto the provinces. The two-year
deal gives provinces and territories a 75 per cent share of tax
revenues, with a portion going to cities and towns to help them pay
for enforcement. That's much more reasonable.

Ottawa suggests there's unlimited potential for pot to generate more
revenue, but the feds shouldn't get their hopes too high. Based on the
CRA survey, Canadians might support legalization, but a large majority
won't be smoking up.

Governments like to preach that legalization is not about revenues but
about protecting kids. And sure, the real benefits are control,
product safety and getting rid of the criminal element. In order to
eliminate the illicit pot market, the ministers agreed to keep the
per-gram price at roughly $10 or lower - cheap by most standards.

Another survey released this week also suggests future tax revenue for
pot is exaggerated. An Ontario study indicates that in the last 20
years, the proportion of students who reported drinking alcohol
dropped to 43 per cent from 66, while smoking rates plummeted to seven
per cent from 28, and marijuana use dropped to 19 per cent from 28.

Young people are better educated, more concerned with their health and
more aware that alcohol and smoking - cigarettes or spliffs - are
simply not healthy.

Canada's expected pot boom could go bust.
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