Ottawa wants provinces to keep pot tax low – Politics

The federal government will be urging the provinces and territories to keep pot taxes low, according to a senior government source.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will make the pitch to his provincial and territorial counterparts, during a series of meetings to be held in Ottawa over the next two days. 

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

The discussions will take place at the semi-annual gathering of the country’s finance ministers, and will be the first formal sit down chat about the issue at this level.

Earlier this year, the federal government introduced legislation that will 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. 

The source says Ottawa wants the 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 source says Ottawa does not want to see any “divergent regimes” spiking or dropping prices. 

The low taxation rate is an effort to eliminate 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. 

Provincial concerns

Since much of the pot policy is being left to the…

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