Canadian, Only 24, Lobbies to Remove Future Tax on Medical Cannabis

The 24-year-old Jonathan Zaid is testifying on Wednesday late afternoon before a finance committee in Ottawa to lobby on the behalf of many Canadian medical cannabis patients, who want the removal of tax on their green herb’s prescriptions.

Zaid, who is still a student, is the executive director and founder of Canadians For Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM).  At 3 pm, Zaid will be testifying before the federal Standing Committee on Finance known as FINA in Ottawa to advocate the removal of excise tax on medical cannabis.

On Twitter, Zaid said he will be testifying alongside his CFAMM’s counterpart James O’Hara.

“Sin Tax”

While prescription drugs are tax-free, Ottawa intends to levy a tax on medical marijuana once legalization takes place, a measure that has angered many Canadians who use cannabis as medicine.

In January, Canadians protested in Ottawa against what they described as the “sin tax.”

Canadians protest against federal govt's plan to tax medical marijuana this summer
Canadians protest against federal govt’s plan to tax medical marijuana this summer. (Screengrab via CP24)

Zaid’s CFAMM is lobbying the federal government not to tax medical marijuana by making cannabis drugs acquire a Drug Identification Number (DIN).

Federally approved prescriptions and over-the-counter drug products in Canada have the DIN, an eight-digit number located on their labels. The label means it has been evaluated by the Therapeutic Products Directorate (TPD) and approved for sale in Canada.

Despite Canada legalizing medical marijuana as far as 2001, cannabis prescriptions don’t have any drug identification numbers. This has prevented Canadian health insurers from including medical marijuana to their drug benefit plans.

Zaid garnered attention as a young lobbyist for medical marijuana in his late teens when he convinced his insurance company – Sun Life Financial – to start covering the only medication that was helping relieve his symptoms for New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH).

Jonathan Zaid with his cannabis medications. (File image via The Star)

In February, Sun Life Financial became the first insurance company to add medical marijuana as an option for its group benefits plans, marking an industry shift and the latest sign of growing public acceptance of cannabis.