By: Samuel Midkiff
When Ottawa announced that they were planning to legalize marijuana, they initially planned to split the tax revenue 50-50 between the federal and provincial governments. They have since offered a greater revenue share to the provinces, but the fact that a single cent of revenue is going to the federal government is bizarre: why should the federal government receive any money from the selling of a product that is provincially insular?
Here are the basic facts: the provinces will use marijuana revenue to pay for services, many of which will be created and devoted to the health issues that will arise from marijuana use (let’s face it: the inhalation of any smoke is bad for the body and will cause negative health effects). The provinces will also be able to use that revenue to help fund other vital public programs and hopefully to reduce the debt, which is probably very unlikely considering how swipe-happy the provinces seem to be with public revenue. The money generated by provincial marijuana sales will be for the benefit of the province and its revenues.
What will the federal government do with revenue? Their claim is that they will put it towards programs to help the provinces deal with the issues that will arise from marijuana use, but there lies the big question: why wouldn’t Ottawa remove themselves as a middle man and just allow the provinces to benefit from the insular sales of their product? The federal government will receive GST revenue from sales anyway, so keeping the federal government away from marijuana revenue will allow the provinces more liberty over the revenue generated. In fact, it almost seems like the revenue Ottawa expects from provincial marijuana revenues is essentially forcing the provinces to pay tribute to Ottawa for Parliament to sign several sheets of paper to legalize it. The federal government won’t be the ones that will have to foot the bill for the resulting expenses created by legal marijuana, so it makes no sense why they should receive a cent of marijuana revenue beyond GST revenue.
I make this plea for both the House of Commons but more so towards the Liberal Party that plans to legalize pot: let the provinces use the revenue because they’ll be the ones having to fund the necessary expenses to deal with legalization. Ottawa won’t be the ones dealing with the results of legalization, so don’t take away vitally needed revenue from the provinces.
This article belongs to The Cadre’s opinion section. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Cadre.