Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Question of How Best to Tax Legal Pot Still a Long Way off, Morneau Suggests

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Question of How Best to Tax Legal Pot Still a Long Way off, Morneau Suggests

Article excerpt

No decisions on marijuana tax: Morneau

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OTTAWA - The Trudeau government is still wrestling with how to tax recreational pot, even as it indicates it's poised to introduce long-awaited legalization legislation next month in advance of April 20 -- the "Weed Day" popularly known as 4/20.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Monday that the feds "haven't made enough progress" in terms of taxing marijuana and several other issues related to legalizing the drug.

The focus has instead been on making sure weed stays out of the hands of children and criminals, Morneau said during a news conference in Calgary.

"Those are our two key goals as we move forward," he said.

"The issue around taxation, any of those issues, are very subsidiary to those first two goals, and we've not yet gotten to conclusions on those sort of aspects at this time."

News of the pending legislation -- the timing of which, media reports suggest, means recreational pot would be fully legal by July 1, 2018 -- pushed up share prices Monday for the country's large marijuana producers.

Shares of Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED) closed 11 per cent higher after gaining $1.10 to $10.98 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Aphria (TSX:APH) finished 8.39 per cent higher at $6.72 per share, a gain of 52 cents.

Yet Morneau's comments suggest at least one key issue remains far from resolved, despite the fact multiple government sources confirmed Monday that the government plans to introduce the bill during the week of April 10.

And the timing has at least one critic suggesting the Liberal government is more interested in placating marijuana users, who famously gather around the world each April 20 -- including on Parliament Hill -- to indulge in their favourite strain and flout the law in jurisdictions where it's illegal.

"This is a totally arbitrary timeline," said Conservative health critic Colin Carrie.

"(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) is more interested in pandering to the marijuana users than doing his job and looking after the health and safety of Canadians."

This year's 4/20 gathering was expected to become a massive -- and highly visible -- protest against a Liberal government already known for breaking or stalling a number of high-profile campaign promises, including electoral reform. …

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