Budget 2018: Medical Cannabis advocates “Outraged” By Excise Tax

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Budget 2018: Medical cannabis advocates “outraged” by excise tax Feds commit to reviewing the Drug Identification Number approval process, will consider rebate program

After campaigning the government to reconsider applying an excise tax to medical cannabis in Canada, advocates say they were outraged to discover it will be added to most medical and recreational cannabis products when cannabis is legalized later this year. Only non-THC and low-THC cannabis products will be exempt from the tax, according to the 2018 federal budget released Tuesday.

“Recognizing the non-addictive, potentially therapeutic role of low-THC cannabidiol oils, which are sometimes used with children facing certain medical conditions, products that contain low amounts of THC will generally not be subject to the excise duty,” reads the budget. THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, and is what produces cannabis’s “high,” psychoactive effects. Cannabidiol – an anti-inflammatory compound that is increasing in popularity – is also commonly referred to as CBD.

There are more than 235,000 Canadians registered with Health Canada who have been prescribed medical cannabis by a doctor or nurse practitioner for a wide variety of ailments. Lift users report relying on products with THC to treat Crohn’s disease, sleep disorders, ADHD, endometriosis, among many other ailments.

“The cap on THC to determine tax application clearly shows the government’s lack of understanding of who medical patients are and what they’re really using medical cannabis for,” said Jonathan Zaid, executive director of Canadians for Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM). “Even paediatric patients use products that are above this cap.”

The excise duty was initially proposed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau to prevent recreational cannabis consumers from seeking prescriptions to access less expensive product. CFAMM launched a campaign in protest. Medicines are not generally taxed in Canada and patients pay between $7 to $13 per gram of medical cannabis flower.

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