Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Larry Kusch
Page: A3


Province says top concern must be health, safety

KEEPING cannabis out of the hands of minors will be of paramount
concern when the Pallister government announces how the drug will be
legally sold in Manitoba, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson says.

Speaking Friday to the annual general meeting of the Manitoba
Progressive Conservative party in Winnipeg, Stefanson blasted the
federal government for rushing cannabis legalization and failing to
estimate its associated costs, many of which are expected to fall to
the provinces.

"Public health and safety has been our No. 1 priority as we manage the
consequences of cannabis legalization," she told PC members.

In August, the government issued an expression of interest for
potential retail distribution models for legal cannabis in Manitoba.

On Tuesday, the government will be announcing details regarding the
production, storage and sale of legalized marijuana.

"I can tell you that our entire team has two top-of-mind concerns for
our future distribution model," Stefanson told party members.

"First, we need to keep cannabis out of the hands of our kids by
restricting market access. And second, we need to keep the profits
from cannabis sales out of the hands of gangs and organized crime by
ensuring adequate supply

Kand (that) pricing is effective in coming down hard on the black
market." Manitoba passed legislation this year giving police the
ability to issue 24 hour licence suspensions where an officer has
reasonable grounds to believe a driver is unable to safely operate a
vehicle due to being under the influence of a drug.

Bill 25 also prevents consumption of cannabis in vehicles and protects
Manitobans from second-hand cannabis smoke in enclosed public places.

Stefanson called Bill 25 "the most comprehensive legislation yet
passed by a provincial government to deal with the public safety
consequences of cannabis legalization."

The federal government, however, "has not come to the table with
policy clarity and the financial resources necessary to get this (the
move to legalized pot) right," she said.

"The Trudeau government won't even tell Canadians, let alone
provincial governments, how much cannabis legalization is expected to
cost them," she said, noting that the Parliamentary Budget Office has
indicated that the federal government has the information but is
withholding it.

Later, Stefanson told reporters she had no estimate for how much
marijuana legalization might cost the province in additional policing
and other costs.

Meanwhile, she said a "number of different stakeholders from the
private sector" had responded to the province's call for an expression
of interest for distributing legalized pot.

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries has also responded.

Stefanson's presentation kicked off a two-day meeting of Progressive
Conservative party members at the RBC Convention Centre.

PC members will debate 20 policy resolutions on subjects ranging from
physician recruitment and reducing red tape to restricting the speed
of trains carrying hazardous materials as they pass through

One resolution would require that all Manitoba political party leaders
undergo a criminal background check, with the results made public.

Another would discourage the government from offering subsidies to
print media outlets.

Yet another would encourage more Manitobans to complete "advance care
plans," in which individuals express in advance what medical
interventions they would and would not want done to them if they were
to be in a situation in which they were no longer able to convey their

Premier Brian Pallister was to briefly address convention-goers at a
social event on Friday evening. He will also speak this afternoon in a
45-minute question-and-answer session that's being billed as a
"fireside chat."
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MAP posted-by: Matt