The Manitoba government is introducing new legislation today that will set out where and how legal cannabis may be sold, and will prohibit the personal home production of cannabis. The legal age of possession will be 19.
“Manitoba continues to put responsible measures in place to respond to cannabis legalization, which includes ensuring the appropriate safeguards are there for legal retail sales,” said Justice Minister Heather Stefanson in a press release. “This new legislation sets out the regulatory framework, enforcement structures and compliance provisions that will help keep cannabis out of the hands of our youth and away from the black market.”
The Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act would amend The Liquor and Gaming Control Act and The Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Control Act to authorize and regulate the retail sale of cannabis in Manitoba as soon as it is permitted under federal law.
Once in place, all businesses selling cannabis in storefronts or online must be provincially licensed. Once retail cannabis sales are legal, individuals must be aged 19 or older to buy, possess and use it. This is similar to the provisions already in place for liquor sales—it would be illegal for retailers to sell cannabis to a person who is intoxicated.
Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL) will be responsible for acquiring all cannabis for retail sale, and only cannabis sourced through them may be sold. MBLL would be authorized to enter into agreements with licensed cannabis distributors, regulated by the federal government. The Liquor and Gaming Authority would be renamed the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority. It would be responsible for licensing cannabis stores and distributors, and its inspectors would be responsible for compliance enforcement.
“By setting the legal minimum for purchase and recreational use of cannabis at 19 years of age, the Manitoba government has demonstrated its commitment to safe and healthy school communities where students can continue to grow and learn through to graduation,” said Ken Cameron, president, Manitoba School Boards Association. “Along with the power to consider the location of schools, parks and playgrounds as part of the process to approve cannabis retailers, government can ensure that all children are not unduly exposed to the potential harms of cannabis.”
The new legislation would also include provisions that would:
- establish the ability of municipal governments to prohibit retail cannabis sales within their boundaries by holding a plebiscite,
- ensure only cannabis grown by federally authorized producers is sold at retail locations,
- confirm all cannabis products sold in Manitoba are packaged and labelled according to federal requirements, and
- increase penalties for offences under The Liquor and Gaming Control Act, now proposed to be renamed the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act, to a maximum fine of $100,000 or one-year imprisonment or both for individuals and a maximum fine of $500,000 for corporations for offences such as selling product from an unlicensed producer or selling as an unlicensed retailer.
A request for proposals from the private sector to operate one or more retail cannabis stores remains open until Dec. 22. The Manitoba government has also introduced The Cannabis Harm Prevention Act to address impaired driving and other road safety issues related to cannabis legalization, which is expected to occur in July 2018.