Article by, Lift News
The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) is one of the latest stakeholder groups to decry the federal government’s recently announced plan to begin taxing medical cannabis purchases when the recreational legalization regime comes into effect in July.
CFAMM, the Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, have also started a campaign to raise awareness around how this will impact medical cannabis users.During a press conference last week, Prime Minister Trudeau outlined the current draft of Canada’s tax plan for recreational cannabis sales. The plan can be summarized as an excise tax of up to $1 per gram, or 10% of the price of the product, plus GST/HST at the usual 12 per cent.
But advocacy groups were quick to criticize the plan, which is currently set to apply not only to recreational cannabis, but also to medical purchases within Canada’s existing ACMPR framework. The latest such group is CAMCD, who issued a statement today expressing concern that the new tax could make cannabis less accessible to patients.
“It would appear that the GST and proposed excise tax on medical cannabis will act very much like an indirect subsidy to big pharma by making medical cannabis less affordable for many patients, especially those in the greatest need,” said CAMCD president Jeremy Jacob.
A provision within the Excise Tax Act allows for tax obligations to be waived on a number of prescription drugs, but cannabis is not among them. This means under the current regulations, medical cannabis is already subject to GST/HST.
The concern expressed by patients in the statement from CAMCD is that by imposing the additional excise tax (which, assuming a base price of $8 per gram, amounts to a roughly 12.5 per cent increase in overall purchase cost), the federal government would force patients on already strained budgets to return to tax-free pharmaceutical treatments, along with all the concurrent side effects many of those patients initially sought to reduce by switching to cannabis.
The CAMCD statement also draws attention to recent studies linking access to legal cannabis with decreases in opioid deaths and prescription drug dependence, going on to suggest that rather than medical cannabis being taxed, it should be discounted to reflect its demonstrated reductive effect on government healthcare spending.
CAMCD cites a report by Health Affairs in the US, which found that based on the savings from decreased prescription fulfillment in states where medical cannabis was legal in 2014, total savings to Medicaid that year would have approached $1 billion USD if cannabis was legal in every state.