(Updated October 10, 2018)
PLEASE NOTE WE WILL BE MAKING SOME UPDATES TO THIS SECTION OF OUR PLATFORM AFTER RECENT INFORMATION WAS RELEASED FROM THE BRITISH COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT REGARDING THE UPCOMING LEGALIZATION OF CANNABIS. THIS IS VERY GOOD NEWS FOR OUR CITY AND WE ARE EXCITED TO CONTINUE BUILDING ON THIS PLAN TO CAPITALIZE ON CANNABIS AS WELL AS FURTHER STRENGTHEN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT AND CONTINUE TALKS WITH NUMEROUS MAJOR LICENSED PRODUCERS IN REGARDS TO ATTRACTING THEIR SUCCESSFUL AND BENEFICIAL COMPANIES TO KELOWNA.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO THIS OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR CITY AND INVITE ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO SHARE THEIR FEEDBACK AND IDEAS WITH US REGARDING THIS ECONOMIC GAME CHANGING OPPORTUNITY.
(Original Content September 18, 2018)
October 17th marks the date that Cannabis will be federally legalized across Canada marking an end to prohibition and turning what has been a long time thriving underground market into a new multi billion dollar industry for our Country. It is extremely rare to see an economic opportunity of this proportion that is slated for immediate success; the likes of one which has not been seen since the ending of the prohibition on alcohol. When presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity of this magnitude it is absolutely imperative that we not only capitalize on the benefits of this economic game changer as a country, but even more so as a city.
The city of Kelowna's population is growing at a substantial rate and so are the number of challenges we face as a community alongside with it. Some of these challenges are to be expected; such as infrastructure increase and traffic, but we also experience more concerning social issues like increased crime, homelessness, drug addiction and lack of affordable housing. Although the challenges across the board may vary as well as their solutions, they all share the common theme that revenue is needed in order to properly address them regardless of how great or simple the plan of action may be.
So where do we get this revenue from? Generally we rely on personal taxation of the people as well as hope for possible provincial and federal government funding that is neither a guarantee or as timely as we need. Increasing taxation on our citizens year after year is not only unfair, it further takes money out of their hard working pockets, which in turn decreases the available funds they have to spend within our local community, directly causing a negative effect on our local economy. With the cost of living continually on the rise, it is harder and harder each day for families and individuals to just keep up, let alone be asked to pay more and more if they want to continue calling Kelowna home. Increased taxation of our people is not the answer, but the taxation of cannabis is the answer.
The benefits of this new taxation opportunity have been widely documented and celebrated in numerous states such as Colorado, Washington, California, Nevada and Oregon. The amount of revenue projected by each state was not only met, it was surpassed and has allowed these states to allocate funds towards bettering themselves in a way like never before possible and on a timeline that was previously unimaginable.
For example, the state of Oregon has a 0% sales tax on all purchased goods with the exception of Cannabis having a 20% sales tax on all recreational sales. From January 4, 2016 till August 31, 2017 the state of Oregon collected 108.6 million dollars in tax revenue alone. They allocated the new found revenue accordingly: The state school fund got 40 percent, or $34 million; mental health and addictions services got 20 percent, or $17 million; Oregon State Police got 15 percent, or $12.75 million; and the Oregon Health Authority got 5 percent, which came to $4.25 million. The remaining $9.56 million went toward the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s “start-up costs” for regulating the industry, and to the Department of Revenue's work to collect the taxes. As a city we have the opportunity to create our own breakdown of the collected revenue and we can apply our new found funds to address our needs accordingly. This means that we can fund projects like JOURNEY HOME on a much faster timeline the proposed five year plan set in place. The percentage break down of the new found revenue would be created with community involvement and having your voice heard as a citizen is another positive benefit one this strategy. One aspect of this strategy that may be over looked is the fact that tourism is one of our main industries in Kelowna yet the tourists do not contribute on a personal taxation level the same way our residents do. A large portion of dispensary sales will be that of tourists and this strategy will capitalize greatly from tourism and be put directly back into improving our city for locals and tourists alike. When we have new found funds to put towards areas that already take up room in our budget it will create much needed room in our existing budget to that can be put towards increasing current services as well as implementing new services for our community.
The province of British Columbia is world renowned for our Cannabis Market with Kelowna and the Okanagan playing the key role as the markets central production hub. Kelowna has the opportunity to not only benefit from taxation purposes, but also to establish ourselves as the global leader in an industry that will eventually be a powerful trading commodity worldwide.
By seizing this opportunity immediately, before it is too late, we will not just be capitalizing on tax revenue, we will be creating hundreds of new jobs for our community and further stimulating the local economy on numerous levels across all categories, including real estate and tourism. This opportunity for success is very real and the window to seize it won't be there for long so it is absolutely crucial we correctly address this now or our chances will soon be up in smoke.
As a mayoral candidate I am proposing we create our own CITY CANNABIS TAX (CCT) on RECREATIONAL CANNABIS sales that will be collected via the dispensaries operating within our city limits. This tax could range anywhere from 3% - 8% on top of the 12% pst/gst combined sales tax we already pay on purchases for a total overall tax amount of 15% - 20% per purchase without causing sales to decrease for businesses or imposing a financial overburden for the consumer themselves. Furthermore, when consumers know their community is directly benefiting from the extra tax and they are part of a positive process, it alleviates any feelings of discontent.
Oregon is absolute proof that a sales tax increase of 20% did not effect cannabis sales. This means that Kelowna can definitely justify this successfully proven measure as the positive benefits far outweigh any potential negativity surrounding it. This type of strategy is designed to benefit all our community residents by creating revenue to put towards issues that we are already being personally taxed for by the city each year. By creating more cap room in our current budget we will hopefully also see an increase of new services implemented as well as an end to the yearly average tax increase of 3.5% Kelowna residents have been experiencing since 2014.
Kelowna currently has 15 retail applications for potential cannabis retail outlets. If each applicant was to do $1 million in sales it would total $15 million overall. If we chose the lower option of 3% CCT we would collect a total of $450,000 with the higher 8% CCT option totalling $1.2 million in previously non existent revenue for our city. I believe that these projected numbers are on the low side and that we will far exceed these ball park estimations and that our community will benefit tremendously by implementing this strategy.
Legalization is coming and as a voter I stress you to make this issue of key relevance in deciding your choice for Mayor. I am the ONLY candidate that has the expertise, experience and network that is required to maximize this grand scale opportunity. I have 100% confidence that I am your only choice for Mayor if we want Kelowna to excel right out of the gates and become a global leader in the multi billion dollar cannabis industry.