By Alfa · Sep 11, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    Gathering potheads is akin to herding ferrets, so naturally, three med-grass
    gals and I were two and a half hours late for our appearance in a pot
    documentary being shot in Kensington. In stop-and-go traffic, we bonded over
    a few ridiculous stories. The subject was taxes.

    "I've been declaring my marijuana for years, hon," the Marijuana Mission's
    Alison Myrden told me about the $40,000 she's declared so far in medical
    cannabis expenses. "You don't have to fight for (the tax credit). Tell 'em
    they're wrong."' Now, this intrigues me. I've been trying for a long time to
    declare my legal grass meds.

    Myrden tells me she totes along her own receipt book in case the person
    filling her pot prescription doesn't have one. She submitted the tagged
    Toronto Compassion Centre prescription baggies that list the amount of
    cannabis and its price.

    I call Revenue Canada, eager to get the dope on this, but spokesperson
    Collette Gentes-Hawn disavows any knowledge of Myrden's
    exception-to-the-ruleism. "No. (Marijuana) is not dispensed by a pharmacist.
    It's only deductible if the medication is prescribed by a doctor and
    dispensed by a pharmacist." Like, uh, who gets pot from a drug store?

    This is where it gets weird. The feds won't give financially strapped med
    grass users a tax break, but that doesn't stop them from collecting a grass
    sales tax from sellers. Talk about lack of a coherent policy.

    The Canada Revenue Agency issued a GST and business number to the Niagara
    Compassion Society, of which I am the director. The NCS is registered to
    sell medicinal marijuana. "Medicinal marijuana is no doubt taxable at 7 per
    cent," says Gentes-Hawn. "As a provider, you have to collect, remit and file
    a return. A compassion club is like any other business."

    Fascinatingly, while the Canada Revenue Agency has opened its arms to
    taxable compassion clubs, Health Canada continues to live in denial about
    the booming medical grass industry.

    "We license individuals, not companies," says HC spokesperson Catherine
    Saunders. Under the new rules, a grower can supply only one user, despite
    the fact that Rev Canada taxes compassion clubs as institutions. The
    official government-funded Prairie Plant Systems charges GST on its swag.

    Over the years, pot proponents have argued that an end to prohibition would
    divert revenue from organized crime to governments. But surprise, we still
    have prohibition and Rev Can is nevertheless reaping 7 p
    er cent on medicinal
    sales. The Minister of Finance's office refuses to comment on the fact
    they're on the pot take.

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