No Tax Relief for Canadian MED Users

By Alex Halperin Mar 22, 2019
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Alex Halperin is the founder, editor and publisher of WeedWeek. Before he started covering marijuana legalization in 2014 he reported on topics such as fracking, health care, technology a...
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Alex Halperin is the founder, editor and publisher of WeedWeek. Before he started covering marijuana legalization in 2014 he reported on topics such as fracking, health care, technology and finance. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Slate, Fast Company, Quartz, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, The New Yorker and many other publications. His first book, The Cannabis Dictionary, was published in March. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Despite months of activism by MED advocates, Canada’s embattled Liberal government will not repeal the country’s federal excise tax on MED. The news came in 2019 budget from a Liberal government rocked by the SNC-Lavalin scandalCBC National

  • Led by Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, MED advocates have spent the winter pressuring the government to remove excise taxes from medical cannabis.
  • The budget offered no changes in taxation for fresh and dried cannabis, or seeds and seedlings, but introduced excise taxes for the new classes of products expected to become available around Christmas based on the quantity of THC in the final productTwitter—Solomon Israel, Financial Post
  • The budget includes a MED tax credit for products bought in accordance with rules on accessing MED after October 17, 2018. Anna Arneson from the department of finance told me, “For 2019, the Medical Expense Tax Credit provides a non-refundable, 15-per-cent credit on eligible medical expenses in excess of the lesser of $2,352 and 3 per cent of net income. ” Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana countered, “This works out to under $500 [per] tax return, which is less then 1 month[’s] medication for the average cannabis patient.” Business in Vancouver, Twitter—CFAMM
  • Asked to explain the medical reasoning behind taxing THC but not CBD, Arneson said, “The excise duty framework generally applies to cannabis products, whether for medical or non-medical purposes, that contain THC, the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis. However, packaged fresh and dried cannabis and cannabis oils that contain concentrations of no more than 0.3 per cent THC, and consequently have little to no associated psychoactive effects, generally are not subject to the excise duty under the framework. Pharmaceutical products derived from cannabis are also exempt, provided that the cannabis product has a Drug Identification Number and can only be acquired through a prescription.”
  • Lawyer Trina Fraser said she could support taxing REC products by THC. But for MED patients, “this must feel like another slap in the face (and Charter violation??) to those using THC to treat nausea, pain, [or] PTSD.” Twitter—Trina Fraser
  • Deepak Anand told MJ Biz Daily, ““There are people using high-THC to treat certain conditions, and they need it to manage their conditions. This is going to raise their taxes. […] This is directly going to impact medical users. Now you’re going to get into the total percentage of THC, so I think it’s definitely going to dig deeper into the pockets of medical users.” MJ Biz Daily
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