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

La Jornada (Canada) - - NEWS -

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

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