Since the avowed aim of legalizing Recreational Cannabis is to keep the product out of the hands of kids by driving out the black market, our federal and provincial governments would do well not to get too high anticipating huge tax revenues from its sale. The trick, of course, is to find the sweet spot, one that the black market will have a hard time combating.
The country’s finance ministers have agreed on a marijuana excise tax of 10 per cent of the product price, or $1 per gram, whichever is higher.Whether that is a reasonable level remains to be seen, but I doubt there can be too much disagreement about the massive mistake unfolding in California, where recreational cannabis became legal on January 1.
Sales taxes, ranging from 5 per cent to 15 per cent across provinces, will also be applied. The federal government has agreed to hand over at least 75 per cent of excise tax revenue to provinces for the first two years after legalization.
In today's Globe and Mail, Andre Picard breaks down California's taxation regime this way:
... the in-store price – about $50, similar to the street value – of an eighth-ounce (3.5 grams) of top-quality product will reach $65 after taxes. Canada is looking at a minimum price of $8 to $10 a gram, plus a $1 a gram excise tax and federal and provincial sales taxes.Given that the black market has thrived for many years in California and elsewhere, it is likely the onerous tax regime imposed on California will have to be reduced; otherwise, it seems hard to believe the majority would choose to pay so much more for their pot simply because stores offer more convenient shopping opportunities.
Marijuana, I read, is not an addictive drug. Let's hope that in Canada, our governments do not become addicted to the tax profits legalization will provide.