Recreational cannabis tax ‘could benefit the economy’

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Speaking after the States announced that they were due to begin issuing licences to grow medicinal cannabis, Keith Beecham said that both the Island’s tourism industry and economy could benefit from making the change.

But he added it was important that discussions between the police, Health and Education had to take place before any idea moved forward.

‘Places such as Colorado and Canada have liberalised their laws and it seems that it is bringing money into their jurisdictions through taxation, and that is to be applauded,’ he said.

‘I think we are a long way off in Jersey from doing anything like that and we have a lot of ethical and legal questions that need to be answered.

‘I would suggest carrying out a consultation and review and see where we end up before we find an appropriate way forward. But I think it would be short-sighted not to look into it.’

Last year, Colorado, which legalised cannabis for recreational use in 2014, announced that it had made $266.5 million in taxes from $1.55 billion in cannabis sales. Buyers of recreational goods are subject to a 15% retail tax, a 15% special sales tax and a 2.9% sales tax.

And in the 2017 fiscal year, the state of Washington collected $319 million in taxes and licence fees from $1.3 billion of sales. The state has a 37% tax on all sales of cannabis.

Mr Beecham added that the Island could also stand to gain from the collection of taxes and entice more people to visit the Island.

‘Obviously, it would take an illegal activity into a legal framework and – I am not an expert on this and I am sure the police would have their opinions – I think that could only be constructive,’ he said.

‘The second and most significant point is the revenue collected by each jurisdiction through the buying of legitimate goods. That money circulates in the economy and benefits the broader economy and the services that we all rely on.

‘I am not advocating it as a lifestyle but for people who have cannabis as part of their lifestyle – such as those in Colorado and California – they can enjoy that part of their lifestyle in a different place. However, all of this must have the support of the community.’

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