Marijuana

Canadian Panel Reportedly Recommends Low Marijuana Taxes and Purchase Ages

A task force emphasizes the importance of displacing the black market.

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Raysonho / Wikipedia (modified)

The task force charged with advising the Canadian government about how to legalize marijuana delivered its report this week. Although the report won't be released to the public until December 21 or thereabouts, National Post columnist John Ivison has the scoop on its major recommendations. It sounds like the panelists learned from some of the mistakes made in Colorado and Washington—in particular, the policies that have helped preserve a black market.

"The key recommendation of the panel charged with outlining the framework for Canada's legal marijuana regime is that the system should be geared toward getting rid of the $7-billion-a year black market," Ivison writes. "All the other recommendations flow from that guiding principle."

The task force cautions against prioritizing revenue from marijuana taxes, which has been a major selling point for legalization measures in the U.S., because high tax rates make legal merchants less competitive with black-market dealers. "To eat into the black market," Ivison says, "the report is expected to recommend prices should be lower than the street price of $8-$10 a gram."

That's $6 to $7.50 in U.S. dollars, which is substantially lower than the prices typically charged by state-licensed retailers in Colorado and Washington. Grams at Medicine Man in Denver, for example, currently range from $12 to $14 (including taxes). Uncle Ike's in Seattle offers a "cheap pot" special for $7 a gram, but prices otherwise range from $10 to $19.

Concerns about a lingering black market also inform the task force's recommendations concerning a minimum purchase age. "Provinces will set the legal age for marijuana consumption," Ivison writes, "but the report is likely to recommend the limit be the age of majority—18 in six provinces; 19 in B.C., Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the three territories—which would keep many young people from turning to criminal sources."

In the U.S., by contrast, all eight states that have legalize marijuana for recreational use have set the minimum age for buying, possessing, and consuming cannabis at 21, the same as the purchase age for alcohol. That decision exposes adults younger than 21 to criminal penalties for harmless activities (such as passing a joint) that are legal for their slightly older friends and siblings. It also helps keep the black market alive as a source of pot for college-age cannabis consumers who are not allowed to patronize legal retailers.

Another consumer-friendly policy reportedly recommended by the task force would allow home delivery of cannabis by mail, the way medical marijuana is currently distributed in Canada. Home delivery was not part of the first four state legalization initiatives approved in the U.S., but it was included in the measures that passed in California and Massachusetts last month. Each Canadian province will decide whether marijuana should also be available from storefronts. Ivison notes that Ontario might sell marijuana at its provincially owned liquor stores, although that idea is controversial among people who worry about encouraging consumers to mix bud with booze.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government won't necessarily follow the task force's recommendations. It is expected to introduce legislation next April, and legal recreational sales could start as soon as January 2018.

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  1. There’s no way the government of Canukistan will be able to resist prioritizing tax revenues. They are just too addicted to other people’s money.

    1. Oh don’t worry zoolander jr has a carbon tax coming down the pipe too

  2. “Each Canadian province will decide whether marijuana should also be available from storefronts. Ivison notes that Ontario might sell marijuana at its provincially owned liquor stores, although that idea is controversial among people who worry about encouraging consumers to mix bud with booze.”

    I’ve never had to break up a fight between people who were stoned off their ass. Violent drunks are dime a dozen OTOH.

    1. “Did we know we were lying about drugs? Of course we did.” – Robert Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic policy chief and architect of the drug war

  3. “The key recommendation of the panel charged with outlining the framework for Canada’s legal marijuana regime is that the system should be geared toward getting rid of the $7-billion-a year black market,” Ivison writes. “All the other recommendations flow from that guiding principle.”

    Why?

    I’d like to think the reasoning is that a black market provides something otherwise not legally available and, since there’s no reason pot shouldn’t be readily available, the presence of a black market is a sure indicator there’s a problem with the existing market structure. But I’d bet the reasoning is simply that black marketeers are criminals and we need to get rid of all the criminals and nevermind the fact that you can more easily, quickly, and cheaply get rid of all the criminals just by repealing a bunch of stupid laws. So why this “imperative” to get rid of the black market?

    1. Because once the black market channels are gone, it’s easier to reap revenues through tax increases as people will have to rebuild those routes and the customer base will be accustomed to visiting the store.

      Also, unregulated commerce is icky, donchaknow.

      1. From the standpoint of the thieves / control freak statists: black markets mean zero taxes and zero regulations.

        So the only way to drive a black market out is to have low taxes, few regulations, and really vigorous law enforcement against those selling outside the law. Generally, statists will give you one out of three.

    2. Because once the government has approved a thing, there will be no more black market. Let’s ask Eric Garner about that. Oh sorry, he was killed by the cops while working the gray market.

    3. I would think their reasoning is that violent gangs profit from the black market. If you want to close this source of revenue to these gangs you need to make the legal market competitive with the black market.

      1. Except, what harm do the gangs put such revenue to? Seems to me they just take their earnings. It’s not like they’re into expensive mischief, is it?

    4. Because otherwise why would they have legalized it?

  4. OT Monkey incites gang violence in Libya

    According to residents and local reports, the latest bout of violence erupted between two tribes after an incident in which a monkey that belonged to a shopkeeper from the Gaddadfa tribe attacked a group of schoolgirls who were passing by.

    The monkey pulled off one of the girls’ head scarf, leading men from the Awlad Suleiman tribe to retaliate by killing three people from the Gaddadfa tribe as well as the monkey, according to a resident who spoke to Reuters.

    At least 16 people died and 50 were wounded in Libya in four days of clashes between rival factions in the southern city of Sabha, a health official said on Sunday.

    1. Real “salt of the earth” types.

    2. The Hatfields and McCoys got started after a pet raccoon did this same thing. True story.

    3. When honor killings start to include monkeys, it might be time to reevaluate your philosophy.

      1. Look, it’s not my fault I have simian enemies.

        1. You know who else had simian enemies?

          1. Roddy McDowell?

  5. That’s $6 to $7.50 in U.S. dollars, which is substantially lower than the prices typically charged by state-licensed retailers in Colorado and Washington.

    It’s actually under $6 per gram for weed with a bit over 25% THC in Washington — check out the Snoop’s Dream strain here:

    http://www.four-twentyfriendly.com/products/

    Snoop’s Dream by Moon Bay
    Indica

    1/8
    20 .00

    25.6% THC 0.1% CBD Smooth smoke with lots of Kush flavor. Relaxed body, dreamy and euphoric headiness. Indica-dominant hybrid. A mix of Blue Dream and Master Kush. Sweet blueberry flavors with a pine aftertaste. This hybrid has a strong indica side and may make doing any focused task difficult. Head effects can also be strong, making this a choice that beginners might want to work up to.

    1. Or about $4 per gram at their competitor here:

      http://royalscannabis.com/menu/

      Matanuska-47 21.4% THC

      $15 eighth

  6. I’ll wait until the fate of home production is clear.

    I’m not expecting any good news on that aspect.

  7. Anybody here know what liquor tax rates were like in the decade following repeal of prohibition in the USA or other countries?

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