The handling tax will be maintained on struggling retailers, farmers, and consumers despite the government not handling any product under the new program.
August 29, 2022 – On Friday afternoon, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch decided to reverse its position on direct cannabis sales for the third time over the past 10 days. They, correctly, decided to unpause the program and proceed with the innovative system they launched on August 15 and suspended a week later. Unfortunately, the BC government appears to have decided to maintain their 15% handling tax despite the fact they are not handling any product under the program.
“The whole concept of a direct cannabis sales program is to bypass that unnecessary, inefficient middle step of the supply chain,” said BC Craft Farmers Co-op (BCCFC) President Tara Kirkpatrick. “While the illicit market will be disappointed the BC program is going ahead, it will be reassured by the province’s decision to keep this extra tax on struggling retailers, farmers and consumers.”
Last month, BCCFC responded to the BC government’s invitation to provide feedback on their direct cannabis sales plan. BCCFC asked the province if they understand imposing this 15% non-handling tax will undermine the sustainability of a robust, diverse and legal cannabis economy in BC. BCCFC said the province’s decision to impose the tax will keep cannabis prices artificially high and benefit the illicit market. No response has been received.
“We hope the BC government will finally decide to maximize the potential of the direct cannabis sales program and eliminate this unfair non-handling tax immediately,” concluded Kirkpatrick. “We appreciate in the end that BC listened to reason and reinstated the direct sales program when it was needed the most. Unfortunately, by keeping the 15% non-handling tax, the full potential of this important program will still not be realized.”
In addition to eliminating the 15% non-handling tax, the BCCFC is supporting the Retail Cannabis Council of BC’s (RCCBC) call for the provincial BC to assist retail store owners and small farmers facing financial hardship created by the failure of BC’s cannabis distribution monopoly to prepare for and respond to a predictable labour dispute.
David Hurford, volunteer Secretary