Recreational cannabis isn’t the cash cow the government hoped for

By Michael J. Armstrong

This month the federal government sent the first cannabis excise tax payments to the provinces. But almost none of the amounts was disclosed. That’s likely because the cheques were smaller than officials had expected. But perhaps it’s also because medical cannabis clients think the taxes are unfair.

British Columbia is the only province so far to disclose its excise tax revenues: $1.3 million for October to December 2018. It had expected $50 million total this fiscal year, but now will be lucky to get $3 million. Other provinces haven’t disclosed their receipts. Manitoba didn’t even mention cannabis revenues in last week’s budget.

Cannabis plants are cultivated in a grow room at Up Cannabis Inc. in Brantford, Ont., on Jan. 16, 2018.

Chris Young/CP

We can, however, estimate pot tax revenues using other data. First consider the federal government’s share.


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