It’s reefer madness to think marijuana will pay the bills
Marijuana legalization opponents say long-term health and social costs will be significant, through things like car accidents, and brain and lung
to the RCMP, $40 million to border security, and $6 million to Public Safety Canada.
Put down your illegal reefer for a moment, long enough to understand that nothing the government does is cheap or efficient. Health Canada’s millions are apparently for “a new regulatory approach, including licensing and inspection, compliance and enforcement, monitoring and research, as well as a national public education and awareness campaign, tracking systems and program support.”
Never mind that this will all have to be done in conjunction with the provinces, which will have their own untold costs.
At least some of this health spending seems superfluous, especially regarding marijuana awareness. Anyone who wanted to know the effects already does and everyone else is in ignorant bliss. Besides, if the packaging is forced to look anything like that for cigarettes, it will basically say, “This will kill you,” aided by grotesque illustrations, and people will maintain happy denial anyway.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has suggested a 10 per cent pot tax. But Finance Department officials refuse to suggest that this will even provide cost recovery for legalization. It’s far from certain.
Colorado, with one-seventh the population of Canada, received $76 million from marijuana taxes and fees in 2014 and that ballooned to $200 million last year. That said, Colorado’s excise and sales taxes on pot add up to 27.9 per cent.
The tax-free status of Canada’s Indigenous reservations will also undermine federal and provincial marijuana revenues. Tobacco tax exemptions amount to an estimated $686 million annually. In Quebec and Ontario, the Akwesasne, Kahnawake, Tyendinaga and Ohsweken reserves, with their own factories, produce a very high percentage of contraband tobacco. Nearly one-third of Ontario cigarettes are contraband. The Macdonald-Laurier Institute estimates the cost to public coffers is $1.6 billion to $3.1 billion in Ontario alone.
If tobacco, forever legal and widely available, can have up to a third of its sales illegal, imagine what the proportion will be for marijuana, widely available yet illegal in Canada since 1923.
As Canada prepares to become the second nation in the world to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, it must hold fast to at least one sober thought: pot consumption and taxation will not relieve our governments’ fiscal headaches. -TROYMEDIA