Province will fight feds on marijuana tax plan

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Two local MLAs say a federal plan about how to share marijuana tax revenue is unfair to the province.

Both St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud and Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken said the provinces are incurring a lot of costs when it comes to marijuana legislation.

“It’s unfair to the provinces and municipalities to have to do the majority of the work with this legalization and the feds want to strip out half of the taxes that are collected on it,” van Dijken said

The provincial and federal government are feuding over the tax plan for marijuana.

On Friday the federal government announced a revenue framework that taxes marijuana at $1 per gram or 10 per cent on the final retail price, whichever is higher. The plan also includes splitting the revenue evenly between the federal government and province.

Provincial Finance Minister Joe Ceci said that he would be sending a letter to Ottawa saying that the tax split would not work for Alberta.

“I’m not sure what the federal government is smoking but I can tell you … this is not going to work for Alberta,” Ceci said. “The federal government must be smoking something to think it will work for the provinces. It’s unacceptable.”

Renaud said that Ceci has the party’s support to negotiate a new deal with the federal government.

“I was thrilled to see Minister Ceci to come out swinging. He’s right. This needs to be negotiated and this is not a fair deal,” Renaud said.

In October, St. Albert city manager Kevin Scoble said that the city had put together a “cross functional team” made up of members of many departments within the city to start to tackle some of the tasks on a municipal level. He said the city has been preparing for the drug legalization for months.

Scoble said that preparing for the legalization of marijuana would be administration’s highest priority over the next year. The municipality will have to sort out issues like zoning and enforcement.

Renaud would not say whether the province plans to give the municipalities some of the funds to deal with costs.

“I think that when the legislation comes out it will look at all the expenses and the way that this is managed,” Renaud said.

Coun. Wes Brodhead said that it would be nice to get money from the province or the federal government but he is not holding his breath.

According to a document leaked to Postmedia, legislation dealing with the sale of weed is planned to be introduced in the legislature this week. The legislation will allow for private retail stores while online sales will be done through the government.

Renaud will not comment on the legislation until it has been introduced.

Earlier this month, the provincial government announced a preliminary framework and said it would follow Ottawa and keep the personal public possession limit of marijuana to 30 grams for adults. It also said it would not change the federally allowed limit of four plants per household.

The Alberta government proposed the minimum age for marijuana consumption at 18, matching alcohol and cigarettes in the province.

The province collected feedback on the framework until Oct. 27. Marijuana will be legal in Canada on July 1, 2018.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.