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No clear timeline on marijuana legalization: federal health minister

Last Updated Jan 6, 2017 at 11:30 am PDT

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Ottawa won't give a timeline when marijuana may be made available

Sales tax revenue won't be as high as first predicted, says parliamentary budget watchdog

OTTAWA, ON. (NEWS 1130) – This spring the Trudeau government will be introducing its legislation to legalize marijuana, but many are wondering when they will actually be allowed to buy the drug. It’s not clear if that will even happen before the next election.

When the legalization bill is passed in the House of Commons and the Senate, which could be late this year or early 2018, it doesn’t mean legal marijuana will be available right away.

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott says it will take some time to set up systems with all the provinces. “We need to make sure that there is a strict regulatory process in place and that there are restrictions in terms of access. We also have work to do on the public education front.”

She was asked if pot would be fully legal and available in Canada before you head to the polls in 2019. “At this point, I can’t give you a specific timeline.”

Meantime, the most recent report from the parliamentary budget watchdog says tax revenues from marijuana sales, once legalized in Canada, will be modest. The Parliamentary Budget Office shows it will be in the millions of dollars, rather than the billions.

The parliamentary budget officer says sales tax revenue could be about $618 million in 2018, or even as high as $959 million depending on tax rates and that’s based on projections that legalized pot will cost $9 per gram.

The parliamentary budget officer is also projecting that 4.6 million Canadians will consume pot in the first year it is legalized, rising to 5.2 million by 2021.

Philpott spoke on our podcast Maclean’s On the Hill.