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April 27th, 2018

NDP urges Morneau to end excise tax on medical cannabis

OTTAWA – NDP Finance Critic Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby), has urged Finance Minister Bill Morneau to eliminate a significant increase in prescription medical cannabis costs by stopping the implementation of a new excise tax on medical cannabis. Finance Canada officials confirmed the increase before the Finance Committee yesterday.

“We believe that the Liberals’ medicinal cannabis tax policy is misconceived, unfair to patients, and damaging to public health. Why wasn’t this tax exempted from the budget implementation act?” asked Julian. “The cost of this prescription medicine is already an obstacle for the over 250,000 authorized cannabis patients. Government should be helping patients ease their financial burden. Unless this government steps in, this excise duty tax could very well push many Canadians and their families into a health crisis, at a time when the need for a universal pharmacare program in our country has never been greater.”

Julian has written to Morneau calling on the Finance Minister to do the right thing by medical cannabis patients, zero-rate medical cannabis tax in line with all other prescription medicine and to exempt medical cannabis from any additional taxes by amending T 3 Amendments to the Excise Act, 2001 (Cannabis Taxation), the Excise Tax Act and Other Related Texts, 69(4) Section 2 of the Act, to support amendments to Bill C-74 in the Standing Committee on Finance to remove this particular new excise tax you had proposed on patients who have prescriptions for medical cannabis.

“Canadians that have a prescription for medical cannabis are currently forced to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars every month to acquire a sufficient amount of medicine, or choose a riskier option, like a prescription opioid, because it’s tax exempt and covered for reimbursement,” said NDP Health Critic Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway). “This is perverse, and even more illogical given the growing body of data which suggests that cannabis can play a significant role in addressing the opioid crisis.”

Julian has put forward an amendment to Bill C-74, the Budget Implementation Act to end the excise tax on medical cannabis. The Finance Committee will vote on the amendment next month.