Article by , CBC News
Some of Canada’s largest cities are not getting the money they were promised from taxes on cannabis, despite the increased costs they face from dealing with legal recreational marijuana use in their communities.
Six months to the day after pot legalization, municipalities say they’re feeling the side effects.
“With the legalization of cannabis, municipalities are, by and large, being shut out,” said Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.
Bowman said Winnipeg, a city already struggling with the health and public safety consequences of meth and opioid abuse, is being forced also to absorb the costs associated with legalizing cannabis — stepped-up policing, zoning for new stores, training for police and bylaw officers and bylaw enforcement — while the provincial government refuses to give up a share of the federal excise-tax cash.
“There are lessons to be learned from tobacco and from alcohol,” Bowman said. “We’ve seen mostly provincial governments really cash in for decades on those two substances, and we see history’s going to repeat itself once again with cannabis.”
This dispute comes down to how the federal excise tax on cannabis is doled out.
The federal government keeps 25 per cent of the tax revenue and gives the remaining 75 per cent to the provinces — with the expectation that the provinces will then hand over 25 per cent of the total to municipalities.
According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, only three provinces have announced cannabis tax revenue-sharing arrangements with cities. Municipalities in Ontario are getting $40 million per year over two years. Quebec has promised municipalities $60 million over two years, while Alberta is offering $11.2 million over two years.
CBC News reached out to all three provinces to find out how much they expect to receive annually from the federal government in cannabis tax revenue; they haven’t yet provided that information.