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Council planning out marijuana tax revenue sharing

PORT HARDY, B.C.- The District of Port Hardy is looking at how tax revenue from marijuana sales can be shared with the local government.

A letter was sent off to Port Hardy council by West Kelowna mayor Doug Findlater.

It essentially suggested that tax money on cannabis should in part be shared with local municipalities, and not just shared between federal and provincial governments.

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“The mayor of West Kelowna realized the fact that as we go along this road (legalization of cannabis), there’s going to be cost for all levels of government, so when we get to the point of having an excise tax, I think he wanted a larger percentage,” said Hank Bood, the mayor of Port Hardy.

An excise tax is a tax that is paid when purchasing a specific good, like gasoline or cigarettes.

“His general view was correct, that when it comes to the excise tax on cannabis, some of that tax needs to go to municipalities to provide money for looking after the general well-being of the community.”

Bood noted that with the eventual legalization of marijuana, city costs will rise, which is a concern that has been brought up by council.

“For example, with our bylaws, as far as general smoking goes, there are areas that you can smoke now and they are far more restricted than they used to be (and) there’s areas where you don’t want to see cannabis being used,” he said.

“If you make those rules, you have to have a method of enforcement and that takes a bylaw officer, so that’s one of those costs. The other costs are borne by the RCMP and other agencies.”

Bood said that a community the size of Port Hardy sometimes does not have enough resources to enforce those bylaws, so even with a rise in costs, an excise tax would help generate revenue that could go back into those city services.

“What I’m happy about is the (federal and provincial government) is sort of giving us a road map of what we need to do and our Cannabis (Advisory Planning) Committee is going to be able to focus a little bit on where they want cannabis retailers to go,” he said.

The Cannabis Advisory Planning Committee was put together to conduct a survey and gather feedback from residents on how they would feel about marijuana dispensaries operating in Port Hardy.

Bood noted that 240 people replied to the survey, which closed on Jan. 31st.

“It’s going to be a more focused process from here on in because we have gone probably halfway down the road as far as rules and regulations go.”

He said the cannabis committee’s next meeting is on Feb. 22nd. They will fully review the survey results and come up with regulations for potential marijuana retailers in Port Hardy.

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