Pubdate: Wed, 06 Dec 2017
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Joyanne Pursaga
Page: 3


Province sets 19 as minimum age to buy pot

You'll have to be 19 to buy recreational marijuana in Manitoba and
only eligible medicinal users will be able to grow weed at home.

If provincial legislation introduced Tuesday passes as is, the minimum
purchase and possession age for recreational cannabis will be one year
older than both the federally required minimum and Manitoba's legal
drinking age. The feds are set to legalize recreational pot on July 1,

The province says setting a higher-than-required minimum consumption
age will help keep marijuana out of schools and out of the hands of

"There's research out there that says ... this is harmful for the
brains of young Manitobans," said Justice Minister Heather
Stefanson."(but) if you (pick) the age of 25 or 21, you're potentially
driving people towards the gangs and the illicit market."

Further age limits will apply to how pot is sold. Unless the drug is
locked away and out of view, such as how pharmacies handle
over-the-counter medications, only those 19 and older would be allowed
inside stores that sell legal marijuana. The province says kids would
also be prevented from buying pot online through requirements to
provide a credit card and other ID.

The province's Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act would
also prohibit Manitobans from growing pot for recreational use at
home, though the province has yet to set an exact penalty for breaking
that rule.

"Obviously, we have young people that live in our homes and we want to
protect them from being exposed to this," said Stefanson.

The minister noted the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has
also asked the federal government to reconsider allowing Canadians to
grow up to four marijuana plants at home, arguing that limit would be
tough and expensive to enforce.

Manitobans also won't be able to try their pot before they buy it,
since the bill bans cannabis consumption "in any manner" within a
cannabis store.

The initial reaction to the legislation was mixed. Mothers Against
Drunk Driving Canada and the Manitoba School Boards Association
applauded the province's decision to set a minimum purchasing age one
year higher than the feds required, even though both organizations
preferred an even older one.

"By keeping the age at 19, it does make sure that it's enforceable
that students do not have any substances in their possession when they
attend schools," said Josh Watt, executive director of the MSBA.

Watt said MSBA had recommended a minimum pot purchasing age of 21,
since brain development is believed to continue until someone reaches
their mid-20s.

But Steven Stairs, a medicinal marijuana user and pot legalization
advocate, said the age limit is problematic.

"I honestly think you're going to criminalize a bunch of 18-year-olds
for no reason just based on the idea that they are somehow going to be
stopping the flow of cannabis going in to high schools ... By that
logic, why aren't you raising the alcohol age?" said Stairs.

He also objects to the province's refusal to allow Manitobans to grow
their own weed, a move he believes demonizes the drug. "I am literally
blown away by that one ... People should be able to grow cannabis in
their own home just like you can brew beer and wine," said Stairs. "I
think you're going to see a (legal) challenge on that one."

Meanwhile, NDP leader Wab Kinew said the province must do more to
protect against the potential mental health and addictions effects of
increased access to marijuana.

"There should be supports for mental health, supports for addictions,
treatment in our province," said Kinew. The province says it will rely
on federal requirements to determine the potency of marijuana that can
be sold, how much pot an adult can possess at once and how the product
is labelled.

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Here are the rules, bud

The province also plans to take the following actions to control legal
marijuana sales::

- -Rename the Liquor and Gaming Authority the Liquor, Gaming and
Cannabis Authority.

- -Make the new LGCA responsible for licensing cannabis stores and
distributors and have its inspectors enforce compliance.

- -Make it an offence to sell cannabis without a licence or purchase it
from an unlicensed seller.

- -Set a maximum fine for those who sell unlicensed marijuana at
$500,000 for a corporation and $100,000 for an individual. Those fines
could be paired with, or substituted by, one year of jail time.

- -Make it illegal to sell cannabis to a person who appears

- -Allow consideration for retailer approvals to be based on proximity
to parks, playgrounds and schools.

- -Ensure only cannabis grown by federally authorized producers is sold
at retail locations.

- -Make it an offence to provide cannabis to a young person and for a
young person to possess cannabis. It will also be an offence to use
false ID to buy cannabis.

- -Deal with most offences by ticketing.

- -Require all cannabis sold through retail cannabis stores to be
purchased from Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries.

- -Allow cannabis retailers to accept remote orders (online) for

- -Require both cannabis retailers and distributors to be

- -Require part of 2% net revenue for MLLC to now include responsible
cannabis consumption initiatives.

- -Require anyone who wishes to sell pot online to also do so through a

- -Require municipalities who don't want pot stores in their communities
to hold a referendum on the topic, which must occur by January 2022.

- -Keep medical cannabis licensed separately.
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