The Trudeau government’s proposed cannabis tax plan has angered provincial governments—who don’t believe tax revenue should be split evenly between Ottawa and the provinces—but they’re not the only peeved parties.
Medical cannabis patients and producers feel strongly that Ottawa should not be applying an excise tax on medical cannabis — full stop. They say medical cannabis should be exempt from taxation just as most other prescription medications are.
Jonathan Zaid, executive director of CFAMM
In an interview with Leafly, Jonathan Zaid, executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), noted that the majority of Canadians can’t get reimbursed for the cost of medical cannabis because insurance companies don’t cover it as standard practice—and that creates a financial burden.
“Patients are struggling to afford their medicine and this tax would just compound the problem,” he said, adding that many people who rely on medical cannabis are on disability.
“The government’s stated rationale behind this proposal is that they don’t want people feigning illness to acquire cannabis or abusing the system in any way. But that isn’t a legitimate argument for creating an extra burden on the more than 200,000 medical cannabis patients in this country.”
Many of the country’s licensed producers have also voiced objections to Ottawa’s proposal, which would add an excise tax of $1 per gram of cannabis or 10 per cent of the final retail price, whichever is higher.
John Fowler, chief executive officer of Ontario-based Supreme Pharmaceuticals, told Leafly that Ottawa’s proposal to add roughly one dollar per gram to sales of cannabis for recreational use is “reasonable,” but believes taxing medical cannabis in the same way “is not in line with the taxation of medicine in Canada and presents a risk that certain patients may not have access to cannabis for financial reasons.”
Colette Rivet , executive director of the Cannabis Canada Association, which represents licensed cannabis producers across the country, believes medical cannabis should be exempt from excise tax and sales tax just as other prescription drugs are. She told Leafly she would like the federal and provincial governments to “ensure medical cannabis is affordable.”