#DontTaxMedicine Campaign fights for the rights of medical cannabis patients

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Canada has had a medical cannabis program since 2001 and there are currently more than 330,000 medicinal users in the country. When the nation legalized the plant for recreational use in October of last year, a new excise tax was levied on all legal cannabis products. Instead of just taxing recreational sales, it’s an added cost for all marijuana products, including those consumed by medicinal users. This makes cannabis the only prescription drug on which excise tax and HST is charged.

Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) (a federal non-profit, patient-run organization dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical cannabis patients) is fighting to change this tax that they view as an injustice. The non-profit is urging Canadians to stand with patients and their families by telling the government: #DontTaxMedicine! 

CFAMM is increasing their efforts throughout February to urge Parliament to eliminate these taxes before the announcement of the 2019 budget at the end of the month. The campaign launched in 2017 and has since successfully rallied supporters to send over 25,000 emails to elected officials advocating for the removal of this tax.

A 2018 Environics poll found that the majority of Canadians already agree with the sentiment of this campaign, as 62% of the country’s residents are opposed to taxing medical cannabis. 

CFAMM maintains that the plant is being taxed because of moral judgment, greed, and government overreach.

"In some provinces, sales and excise tax combine to increase the cost of medical cannabis by up to 25 per cent. The government is making it incredibly hard for patients to manage the cost of their treatment and many tell us they cannot afford anywhere near their full dose," said CFAMM President and medical cannabis patient, James O'Hara. "Over-taxing leads to under-dosing, which can aggravate symptoms, leading to additional strain onto Canadian public health systems. These costs are passed on to all taxpayers."

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Cannabis brands such as licensed producer Aurora Cannabis have shown their support for the cause on social media.

The campaign has inspired and mobilized people to show their support through peaceful protest. In January of 2018, medical marijuana patients associated with #DontTaxMedicine protested outside of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Toronto constituency office. This move generated a lot of press for the cause and the campaign.

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We urge all Canadians to stand with patients and tell our federal and provincial governments: Don't Tax Medicine! Go to https://DontTaxMedicine.ca to write a letter or social post to your local MP, provincial MPP/MLA, and members of the House Standing Committee on Finance, urging them to remove all taxes on medical cannabis.

About Taxes on Medical Cannabis 
Medical Cannabis product sales are taxable under the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), and are paid directly by consumers at the point of sale. Prescription medication, medical devices, and even basic groceries do not have sales tax charged on them. Removing sales tax would be consistent with how we treat most prescription medicines.

The federal government currently requires that cannabis producers charge all medical cannabis patients an excise tax of at least 10 percent. HST is then charged on the sum of the base price of the medicine plus excise tax, forcing medical cannabis patients to pay additional tax on the excise tax applied to their treatment. Gasoline, rubber, and fuel-inefficient vehicles are some of the goods subject to excise tax in Canada. Medicine has no place on this list.

For more information, visit https://DontTaxMedicine.ca

About Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana 
Founded in 2014, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) is a federal non-profit, non-partisan, patient-run organization dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical cannabis patients. CFAMM's goal is to enable patients to obtain fair and safe access to medical cannabis with a special focus on affordability. For more information, visit www.cfamm.ca.

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