Premiers sit down with PM Trudeau to share concerns on cannabis, tax reform

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers are meeting today — and small business tax reform and the tight timeline for legalizing cannabis by next July are atop the agenda.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said since there is already a number of marijuana dispensaries in his province, he thinks the retail infrastructure is already in place for the sale of the drug.

“British Columbia has, I would suggest, a mature market when it comes to cannabis and the challenge for us is going to be trying to contain the enthusiasm within the community,” Horgan said Tuesday on his way into the meeting.

Horgan said what he hopes to impress upon the federal government is the importance of getting the price of pot right, so that it does not allow the black market to thrive: “We want to make sure the price point is right.”

He also said he is confident the existing timeline is long enough, but that he might be proven wrong as he gains more experience in government and discovers the true pace at which things can develop.

“I think reality might smack me in the face in the months ahead, but today I believe that the deadlines are achievable.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said she wants some more clarity from the federal government on the burden the provinces will have to bear for regulating the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

“We are learning that there is more and more costs that are going to be incurred by provincial governments, and so we need to make sure that the issue of cost neutrality to the governments that are actually doing the heavy lifting is preserved,” she said.

On the contentious question of proposed Liberal tax reforms, both Horgan and Notley said the plan must strike a balance between making sure the wealthy pay their share and avoiding undue harm to small businesses.

Notley said she wants to ensure the government works to protect such businesses from “unintended consequences that would detract form the work that they do, particularly in Alberta as we are emerging from a recession.”

“We know that the work of small businesses is fundamental to that success.”

The Canadian Press