With recreational cannabis laws set to go into effect in July, the topic is quickly moving towards the predicted income from cannabis taxes.
Manny Jules, chief commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission has come out asking senators to amend C-45 and give the authority to First Nations governments, so that they can control all the taxes for marijuana that will be manufactured and sold on their reserves.
The Liberal government struck a deal to divide up the excise duty collected from the sale of marijuana to the provinces in a 25-75 split, to make up for the costs that the provinces will incur with legal marijuana. Jules said that “First Nations governments will also be facing challenges from C45”, but they will “not gain anything from 75-25 split” of excise duty.
Jules’ proposal states that Ottawa and the provinces would “allow First Nations to collect taxes”, which would give them revenue to develop marijuana-related laws, add “more people to First Nations police forces” and fund campaigns to create education on the “dangers of drug abuse”.
Lack of Communication
Even though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has talked a lot about developing better relationships with Indigenous peoples, Jules is upset that they were not spoken to or considered when recreational cannabis legislation was rolled out.
“I think that people are very disappointed that we weren’t considered early on. The challenges [First Nations] face are even larger than those of the provincial governments.”
He is concerned that with the lack of communication they are going to see many of the same issues that they faced with the sale of tobacco. “Where there’s no law you’re going to have problems,” he said. “If the legislation proceeds as-is … there are going to be immediate problems within our communities just over simple things, like the regulatory regimes on how cannabis retailers would operate on a reserve.”