Liberals cite health, not profits, behind marijuana legalisation

Liberals cite health, not profits, behind marijuana legalisation

(Quebec) The legalization of marijuana in Canada will certainly generate revenues, but this is not the main objective of the Trudeau government according to the newly-elected Liberal MP for Québec, Jean-Yves Duclos.

“The way of pricing cannabis somewhat resembles that of alcohol and tobacco. This is a product that can be consumed and that can generate revenue from tax sales. It is likely that legalizing this market will generate revenue […], but what tax rate is to be applied? I have no idea,” says the Laval University economist.

There has yet to be an estimate of the income that could be generated from the legalization of marijuana. Instead, Duclos uses the figure of $5 billion in five years forwarded by the Green Party. “The current system gives us zero. So it would be between 0 and $5 billion, but where exactly, I have no idea,” he adds. For example, the first US state to legalize marijuana, Colorado, collected $70 million in taxes between 1 July 2014 and June 30, thus exceeding its revenues in taxes on alcohol greatly. (These amounted to $42 million.)

But anyway, says Jean-Yves Duclos, the Liberal party’s concern is not financial. “This is not the main goal. The main objective is to protect the health of our children and to assure the wellness of those who choose to use cannabis.”

They recognize that the task is not small. “How does one set up a system that legalizes marijuana to achieve these goals? This is an important issue that requires a lot of listening and collaboration with provinces and municipalities.” Mr. Duclos also reminds us that the issue goes beyond the field of taxes since there are “major concerns related to health” as opposed to the sale of more common goods such as food and shoes.

“We’ll probably move forward progressively, all the while respecting the concerns that are still present among citizens,” says Duclos. According to him, there are still many people who do not understand the benefits of legalizing cannabis for the community. In his opinion, a project of “alertness and awareness” is in order to serve this purpose.

The PLC intends to legalize and regulate marijuana but also plans to restrict access “to prevent marijuana from falling into the hands of children, and profits to fall into the hands of criminals.”

Justin Trudeau’s party also plans to create a working group with the provinces that will establish a strict system of sale and distribution of marijuana subject to provincial and federal taxes.

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