Finance Minister Bill Morneau talks pot bucks with provincial counterparts

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Bill Morneau can expect a lot of provincial hands reaching for the federal purse strings when he sits down with his counterparts in Ottawa today.

The issue of who should get the lion’s share of revenue from legalized cannabis is expected to be a major bone of contention.

The provinces and territories say they’ll have to bear the lion’s share of the costs associated with legalization, and therefore should get most of the revenue.

Among the expenses the provinces are likely to face are beefed up policing, increased road safety efforts, busier court systems and public awareness campaigns.

Morneau has said the federal government should get as much as half the tax revenue. Federal officials say Morneau’s argument will be that Ottawa has put aside more than $1 billion over five years toward the costs involved with legalization.

But provincial finance ministers like Ontario’s Charles Sousa are skeptical, and want the federal government to explain exactly what it’s paying for.

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