Government Should Stay Out of Marijuana Business

Article by Roger Taylor,  Chronicle Herald

TAYLOR: Government should stay out of marijuana business ROGER TAYLOR THE CHRONICLE HERALD . Under a provincial government plan to sell marijuana in retail stores, the NSLC on Joe Howe Drive in Halifax is among those outlets. (Eric Wynne/ THE CHRONICLE HERALD)

Canadians can’t be sure when marijuana will be legalized — is it August, September or some other date? — but uncertainty around the timing hasn’t stopped the hype about the legalization of weed.

That hype includes the people projecting how much related revenue the Nova Scotia government will bring in from the sale of legalized pot in the coming year.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Karen Casey’s budget projected a $29.4-million surplus on a $10.8-billion budget. A significant portion of the surplus is projected to be coming in the form of about $20.8 million in new taxes and duties from the sale of about 12 million grams of recreational cannabis, if legalized sales begin on July 1.

Some government critics doubt whether Ottawa will be able to get the legalized marijuana system in place to allow for the province’s new revenue source.

Nevertheless, Casey has said the Liberal government is not expecting to make money directly from marijuana sales, however the government does expect there will be a shift from the illegal underground market to the new legal market.

The finance minister told reporters on Tuesday there are “still a lot of unknowns” on cannabis sales.

Although the government doesn’t know for sure how much tax and duties it will collect from the sale of pot, Casey said a best guess revenue number was required for the budget, because there will be additional revenue related to the sale of legalized pot.

The provincial government has already designated nine Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. stores across the province to begin sales in Nova Scotia once recreational marijuana sales are legalized.

Lack of access to the legal retail outlets may make it difficult for the government to achieve its aggressive revenue projections. One person I spoke to about the marijuana subject joked that it seems like the provincial government doesn’t seem to want to wipe out the underground market completely.

Read the full article here.

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