Carleen Roth, the COO at CannGroup, a cannabis processor in north Okanagan, is launching a petition calling on the provincial government to provide relief to cannabis growers and processors struggling to survive.
CannGroup, she says, paid more than $1 million in excise taxes last year, noting that most of that—three-quarters of every dollar—goes back to the provincial governments, including BC.
Not only are they taxed at a high rate on any cannabis products they sell, but they also face steep increases in their property taxes (from $1,200 a year to $49,000) and have even had to refinance their mortgage to a high-interest private lender because of their connection to the legal, regulated industry.
With the BC government bringing in more than $225 million in their share of federal excise taxes since legalization (as of September 1, 2023), she says she would like to see the province use a portion of that revenue to help the local cannabis industry which the province says it likes to support.
“I’d love it if they could even take ten percent, 26 million from the last three years and grant that to producers to assist with their business development. That would help.”
“Some things they could do is they could rebate some of the tax to us so we can buy our packaging, machinery and materials,” she adds. “That’s something they do for other industries. They could give us low-interest loans to purchase equipment or hire people. They do that for farmers. They could treat us like farmers, which we are, or like other similar industries.”
“We’re not asking for much,” continues Roth. “We just want to run a business. If we can’t survive, then the government doesn’t get anything from us.”
In addition to the federal excise tax, which amounts to $1 for every gram sold (where wholesale prices can be as low as $1-3 a gram or less) and typically $8 per vape pen or gram of concentrate, she notes that producers operating in BC have seen their property taxes increase several hundred or even thousands, plus the BC government takes an additional 15 percent fee for any products sold into the provincial system, even if producers deliver it directly to retailers themselves.
Roth says her hope with the petition is to try and rally more producers in the province to lobby not only the federal government to address the issue of the federal excise tax but also her own provincial government to acknowledge how much they are receiving from that tax.
“We’re just a small company, and we’re paying more than a million dollars a year in taxes to the government. This can’t continue, or we’re going to see a lot of businesses fail. And then no one wins, and the government loses out on all that money, forever.”