Not everyone supports marijuana legalization in Canada. But, arguing that 94 years of prohibition were an “abject failure,” the federal government has tabled legislation—currently in the Senate for final approval—to legalize marijuana for adults, come July 2018. The legislation leaves it up to the provinces to decide on their distribution systems and usage regulations.
In December, Ontario passed the Cannabis Act which sets the rules and regulations for marijuana use, sale and distribution. Mississauga was one of the first 14 cities selected to have legal recreational marijuana shops.
The legislation creates a new provincial retailer, overseen by the LCBO. Mississauga will be home to one of these new Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) retail stores, which will open in July 2018.
On December 11th, the federal government agreed to give provinces and territories 75 cents of every dollar collected in excise tax from marijuana sales. Any federal revenue higher than $100 million will be provided to provinces and territories.
Ontario and municipalities like Mississauga which have agreed to host OCRC stores, stand to gain. How much though, is still unclear. Negotiations between the province and municipalities are forthcoming.
“Mississauga Council and staff are requesting that the provincial and federal governments work together to provide greater clarity on the amount of revenue that will be given to municipalities from the federal excise tax on cannabis. Cities, like Mississauga, will face cost pressures associated with the legalization of cannabis, including zoning, by-law enforcement, licencing, public health, and policing, to name a few,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.
Estimates for cannabis sales figures in Canada and potential tax revenues range. A senior economist at CIBC World Markets came up with a $10 billion estimate of the Canadian demand for legal cannabis, and projected provincial and federal governments could take in $5 billion per year in tax revenue. On the other end of the scale, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated annual national retail market of $5.5 to $5.8 billion, suggesting $2.1 to $2.3 billion in retail sales in Ontario.
But whether ten billion or five, it looks like Mississauga stands to line its municipal coffers from Canada’s marijuana legalization.