While recreational users celebrated legalization arriving last year, medical cannabis users waited for October 17 with more trepidation. Many patients saw their prices go up as the Cannabis Act taxes recreational and medical marijuana as the same kind of product, with an excise tax of $1 per gram or 10% overall.
That amount can be higher due to regulatory differences between provinces, with some patients paying as high as a 25% tax.
Non-profit group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) is seeking to change that, kicking off the #DontTaxMedicine media blitz.
Flanked by Liberal and CPC MPs such as Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Marilyn Gladu, and Don Davies, CFAMM President Gerald Major spoke on Parliament Hill in Ottawa today, calling for an end to all taxation on medical cannabis.
The heart of the organization’s argument is that medicine prescribed by a physician should not face an excise tax, which is normally applied to products that have negative health effects such as alcohol or tobacco.
During the event, CFAMM brought out current medical cannabis users to comment on their experiences. Former Durham Regional Police Service sergeant Vincent Lefaive had this to say about the monthly medical marijuana costs:
Regulatory stamps and the excise tax have both contributed to StatCan reports in the months following legalization. They consistently showed that licensed producers tend to have prices of $3 higher per gram than unlicensed, black market providers.
Those numbers have frequently been cited as a reason for the thriving black market and sluggish growth on the legalized side. Cannabis experts have estimated recreational prices won’t drop significantly for at least a year as supply and licensing issues are worked out across the industry.
On the medical side, some companies have taken matters into their own hands when it comes to medical customers. In August of 2018, before the Cannabis Act had gone into effect, CannTrust (TSX: TRST) announced the excise tax price would be absorbed by the company and not passed onto medical patients.
CFAMM’s appearance on Parliament Hill isn’t the only large-scale political movement seeking legislative changes to the legalized marijuana industry.
A contentious legislative committee hearing kicked off in Quebec last week over a proposed bill to raise the minimum cannabis use age to 21. That fiery hearing saw both pro and anti-cannabis witnesses appearing to make their case for either changing the law or keeping the minimum usage age at 18.