With the enactment of the Cannabis Act and the nationwide legalization of marijuana on Oct. 17, a total of 13 variations of Canada’s first cannabis excise stamp have been issued for licensed producers of the psychoactive plant with widespread medical applications.
Each province and territory is responsible for regulating production, distribution and sale, according to the act, which provides adults with legal access to cannabis. The stated objectives are to “prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework.”
Included within this “legal framework” is the use of excise stamps, which were unveiled by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and first reported in Canadian Stamp News this March. Measuring 20 millimetres by 40 millimetres, the imperforate stamps, which are attached to containers holding the drug before shipping, can only be ordered online from the CRA by licensed cannabis producers.
The unnamed stamp contractor initially printed more than 225 million stamps, about 85 million of which have since been purchased and delivered to licensed producers.
Nearly identical to Canada’s excise stamp for cigarettes, the new cannabis stamps include the word “CANNABIS” in large black capital letters above a red maple leaf. The stamps also include wavy bars of colour-shifting ink above an engraved holographic image of maple leaves. The initials of the respective province or territory are outlined in white on one of 13 different coloured bands alongside bilingual text reading “Duty Paid/Canada/Droit Acquitte.” A black serial number is also printed on the stamp.
“An excise stamp must be present on all cannabis products that have been legally produced and are available for purchase,” reads a notice issued by the federal government earlier this year. “A federal excise duty is payable by a licensed cannabis producer when the cannabis products they package are delivered to a purchaser (for example, a provincially-authorized distributor/retailer or final consumer).”
The notice adds: “The CRA is responsible for licensing cultivators, producers and packagers of cannabis products, and collecting federal duties and taxes. Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the distribution and retail sale of cannabis.”
The new excise stamps were fraught with issues upon their arrival at cannabis suppliers’ warehouses, according to an Oct. 15 Financial Post story.
The stamps either arrived late; didn’t fit package sizes; or lacked glue and required manual attachment to ensure they fully comply with the Excise Act.
One company spokesman said his firm had to order larger stamps to replace smaller ones before sending its shipments to the Ontario Cannabis Store.
“The CRA says it has not received any complaints from licensed producers about delays in receiving the stamps,” reads theOct. 15 Financial Post story.