In an interview with the Canadian Press, prime minister Justin Trudeau stated that his government’s goal with legalization of cannabis isn’t tax revenues, but to protect Canadians.
“The big reason that we chose to commit to controlling and regulating marijuana is to keep young people safe,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau cited a 2013 study from UNICEF that listed Canadian youth as having the highest rate of cannabis use compared to any other country in the developed world.
Statistics Canada’s reported that the number of Canadian youth (22 per cent) and young adults (26 per cent) who used marijuana in 2013 was more than double that of adults 25 and older (8 per cent)
“We need to make sure we’re keeping our kids safe and keeping our community safe by removing the black market and the criminal gangs and street organizations from it,” Trudeau said. “The fact is that if you tax it too much, as we saw with cigarettes, you end up driving things toward a black market which will not keep Canadians safe, particularly young Canadians.”
Trudeau was asked about potential tax revenues from legalization and said the government isn’t banking on taking in a large amount from cannabis.
“Yes, there’s a potential for a bit of revenue on that but we’re certainly not looking for a windfall and it is certainly our thought that money that comes in should go toward addiction treatment and mental health support and education programs rather than financing general revenue,” Trudeau said. “It was never about a money maker it was always about public health and public safety.”
During the election, the Liberals included no projected revenues from legalization in their platform but estimates have been made that peg the government at taking in $800 million to over $3 billion dollars a year from cannabis taxation.