B.C. pot buy­ers may face 10 per cent pro­vin­cial pot tax

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Jeremy HAINSWORTH

B.C. cannabis users could be pay­ing a pro­vin­cial tax as high as 10 per cent on their pur­chases if the prov­ince’s mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties get the tax deal they say is nec­es­sary to off­set the ef­fects of mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion.

“Le­gal­iza­tion will cost money mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties don’t have,” Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties pres­i­dent Clark Somerville told del­e­gates at the Union of B.C. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (UBCM) con­fer­ence in Whistler. “Make sure you are push­ing for a fair lo­cal share.”

Cannabis will be le­gal in Canada Oct. 17. New laws will al­low peo­ple over 18 to pos­sess up to 30 grams of legally pro­duced cannabis, give adults the right to grow up to four plants per house­hold, reg­u­late pro­duc­tion, sale and distri­bu­tion and es­tab­lish pro­vi­sions for im­paired driv­ing.

B.C. has in­tro­duced the Cannabis Con­trol and Li­cens­ing Act and the Cannabis Distri­bu­tion Act and brought in changes to the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Act to ad­dress le­gal­iza­tion.

Worker safety is al­ready cov­ered un­der im­pair­ment pro­vi­sions of the Work­ers Com­pen­sa­tion Act.

At the lo­cal level, said Van­cou­ver Coun. Kerry Jang, re­spon­si­bil­i­ties will in­clude polic­ing and by­law en­force­ment, li­cens­ing of re­tail op­er­a­tions, changes to land use man­age­ment and zon­ing and en­force­ment of lo­cal reg­u­la­tions.

UBCM pres­i­dent Wendy Booth said the or­ga­ni­za­tion would de­bate a res­o­lu­tion to­day to guide both short- and long-term cannabis rev­enue shar­ing with Vic­to­ria.

She said Vic­to­ria could rake in a pro­jected $125 mil­lion from the cannabis ex­cise tax in the first two years of le­gal­iza­tion.

She said that num­ber com­pares to $73 mil­lion in Que­bec and $100 mil­lion in On­tario.

The UBCM sup­ports the idea that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties should share in that ex­cise tax to help pay for the bur­dens le­gal­iza­tion will place on lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

Un­der the UBCM’s pro­posed short-term strat­egy, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment would pro­vide mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with 40 per cent or $50 mil­lion of the pro­jected ex­cise tax rev­enue of $125 mil­lion in the first two years of le­gal­iza­tion.

Un­der the pro­posal, any rev­enue over that $125 mil­lion would be shared evenly.

“Ex­cise tax rev­enue would be dis­trib­uted to B.C. lo­cal gov­ern­ments on a per capita ba­sis, with all mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and re­gional dis­tricts get­ting at least $10,000,” Booth said.

Un­der the res­o­lu­tion, the orig­i­nal frame­work would stay in­tact in the long term, bar­ring any sig­nif­i­cant changes.

And the UBCM would like to see the orig­i­nal seven-per-cent tax boosted to 10 per cent.

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