Trudeau: Tax Revenue from Canadian Legal Pot to Fund Treatment and Education

By Paul Gaita 12/23/15

Trudeau insists that marijuana legalization is not about making a profit for the Canadian government.

Justin Trudeau

Newly minted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made the legalization of marijuana part of his Liberal Party platform since 2013, and he reaffirmed his vow to “legalize, regulate and restrict access” to pot in a December 4 speech to Parliament. And as Trudeau discusses how to implement his plan with federal and provincial government figures, he has emphasized that tax revenue earned from marijuana sales will not be a source of general funds for his federal government. “[Marijuana legalization] was never about a moneymaker,” he said at a press conference on December 17.

Instead, Trudeau has asked that public funds earned by marijuana sales be given to an array of federal and public programs, including addiction treatment, mental health support and education programs. To implement these changes, he has promised to establish a task force with government representatives as well as experts in public health, substance abuse and legal issues. They will be charged with creating a system of marijuana sales and distribution that will draw funds from federal and provincial excise taxes.

 “We are going to get this right in a way that suits Canadians broadly, and specifically in their communities,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Vancouver on December 17. “[It’s] why we’re taking the time to weigh in properly and ensure that we’re achieving our goals of protecting our young people and removing the criminal profits.” In addition to establishing the sales and distribution system, Trudeau has called for reform to the current laws in the Criminal Code of Canada regarding the consumption and incidental possession of marijuana, as well as stronger punitive measures for those who provide it to minors or operate a vehicle while under its influence.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.