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Canada: Activists advocate for the abolition of taxes on the purchase of medical marijuana

Vincent LeFave, a veteran of the police patrol with 30 years of experience, regularly uses cannabis to combat the symptoms of post-traumatic personality disorder.

“Hemp, literally, removes any anxiety and panic with the hand.  I use cannabis extracts every four hours, but unlike pharmaceuticals, they provide a longer lasting and stronger effect on the occasional panic attacks.”

– notes LeFave, who began to use the plant for therapeutic purposes in 2016, after retirement.

However, LeFave consumes only a third of the dosage recommended by doctors, since he simply cannot afford to buy a larger stock of cannabis, due to the fact that the existing tax rates on the industry have seriously raised the average price of medicinal plants.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Statistics of Canada, more than 479,000 citizens of the country officially enter the system of legal distribution of cannabis. Like recreational consumers, these people also pay a rather high tax on each purchase of medication. In addition, the transaction tax is also levied by local authorities, which additionally raises the price of the product to consumers.

In fact, we not only have to buy a rather expensive medicine, we also have to pay high taxes for it twice,” LeFave says. “It’s ridiculous that, despite the already complete legalization of marijuana, medical cannabis consumers, who are generally poor people, many of whom have a disability, received not a subsidy or a discount, but inflated prices for a vital medicine.”

Now Mr. LeFave is one of the main public speakers of the public organization Canadians for Facilitating Access to Medical Marijuana, the main requirement of which is the abolition of any taxes and duties on medical cannabis market transactions. In particular, members of the organization are extremely dissatisfied with the fact that the government taxes only medical marijuana, while purchasing pharmaceutical drugs is not only not subject to duties, but is also subsidized in most cases.

“Most of all, we are not satisfied with the tax that local and federal authorities charge each purchase of medical cannabis,” says the organization’s vice president, Gerald Major, who also uses plants for the treatment of pain caused by spondylitis and arthritis. Over the past 9 years, Mr. Major underwent 9 operations on the limbs of the body, with the result that he became addicted to opioid painkillers, which medical marijuana recently helped him to refuse.

In general, the organization hopes that public pressure will force the Government of Canada to amend the country’s new budget, which will be considered in early March. At the moment, the group has organized the campaign “Do not tax our medicine!”on the largest social platforms on the Internet, in order to attract the attention of a wide problem to the issue of collecting duties from the medical cannabis market.

“In the end, the authorities must understand that they cannot isolate medical cannabis, which is the official nationally accepted medicine, into a separate category of drugs that can be taxed,”

– Mr. Major notes.

At the moment, the Canadian Ministry of Finance has told activists that tax deduction and subsidies are provided to citizens only for the purchase of prescription pharmaceutical products, which, technically, medical cannabis does not apply, despite national legalization.

“The Canadian Revenue Service continues to adhere to the position supported by the verdict of the federal court, which states that medical cannabis may be subject to taxation and additional fees due to the fact that its acquisition requires only a recommendation, not a formal prescription from the doctor”,

– says the letter sent by the Ministry of Finance to address of the public organization.

Among other things, the situation is complicated by the fact that certain duties and taxes can be removed only from products containing a certain concentration of THC, as well as the fact that some medications taken by the country’s sanitary bureau that contain extract of isolated CBD can be sold without taxation, since they are recognized as “pharmaceutical preparations prescription. ”

It is worth noting that, most likely, the existing tax system exists only for the reason that the federal government wants to keep both segments of the legal cannabis market on equal terms, at least until the recreational segment can independently generate profits and successfully compete with gray market. In support of this conjecture, one can cite the words of Bill Blair, the minister responsible for drafting the law on national legalization, who said last November that “equal taxation levels in both cannabis market segments would not allow consumers to illegally use less strictly regulated cannabis in recreational purposes. ”

“Unfortunately, this position of Mr. Minister was based on delusions. Although the purchase of medical cannabis in Canada does not require any special formulation, such products still can not be obtained without a written recommendation of the attending physician, ”

– said another representative of the organization and a consumer of therapeutic cannabis, Ashley Brown, in this regard.

“I understand the officials’ concerns that many unscrupulous citizens may try to use legal cannabis for recreational purposes, while not paying the appropriate taxes and fees. However, I doubt that they realize how difficult it is to find a qualified doctor who is ready to issue such recommendations, ”continues Miss Brown. “To be honest, it seems to me that instead of all these delays in obtaining recommendations, it will be easier for real violators to seek the services of the still existing black or gray cannabis market than to search for a suitable doctor and simulate the disease.”

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