Keep Pot Taxes Low, Provinces Told

The federal government will be urging their counterparts in the provinces and territories to keep taxes low on marijuana

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau will make the pitch to finance ministers from the provinces and territories, in meetings in Ottawa this week.

Although a price for pot is not likely to be set during the talks, provincial and territorial leaders will be urged to keep taxes low in an effort to undercut prices on the black market.

Earlier this year, Ottawa put forth introduced legislation to make the recreational use of marijuana legal by July 1, 2018. Many of the decisions about how the drug will be sold and taxed are being left up to individual provinces.

Sources say Ottawa wants provinces and territories to agree to three broad priorities when coming up with their marijuana strategies: a co-ordinated approach, a low taxation rate, and a commitment to ongoing collaboration and co-operation.

The co-ordinated approach is an effort to ensure prices and policies are similar across the country. The low taxation rate is an effort to crowd out the black market. The Liberals have repeatedly said the purpose of making marijuana legal is to keep it out of the hands of children and criminals. By setting a low rate, the source says it will help drive drug dealers out of the market.

The federal government is also seeking a commitment of ongoing collaboration. The source says this is a new industry, and because there are many aspects yet to be determined, it is best to keep the lines of communication open.