Article by Robert Benzie, The Toronto Star
Marijuana will not be the pot of Colombian gold at the end of the rainbow for the cash-strapped provincial treasury.
That was the message at Queen’s Park on Wednesday in the wake of a federal task force reporton implementing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to legalize recreational marijuana.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa, who hopes to eliminate the province’s $4.3 billion deficit in the 2017-18 budget, insisted the government is not expecting weed cash to be rolling in.
“Whatever we’re getting in is being reinvested to control the substance and the system. It’s not being seen as a means to balance the books or provide for revenue,” Sousa told the Star.
“For us, the benefit of any revenue would be to go into programs,” he said, pointing to public education, health, and motor safety initiatives.
The treasurer said because legalized marijuana will not be sold at the LCBO — the federal task force recommended “no co-location of alcohol or tobacco and cannabis sales” — it won’t be the cash bonanza some had expected.
“With liquor, it’s a huge dividend. Of course that distribution is completely different than what it would be with marijuana. (The LCBO are) wholesalers, they’re major distributors, they’re retailers, it’s a different system,” he said.