Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says proposed amendments to The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act would enhance cannabis possession rules to protect health and safety while preserving the integrity of the legal retail cannabis system and stop the illicit cannabis market.

“Throughout the process of federal cannabis legalization, our government has continued to make health and safety our top priority,” said Cullen. “These possession restrictions help crack down on the illicit cannabis market by giving provincial inspectors the clear ability to seize illicit cannabis.”

Cullen says it is too early to say what impact the legalization of cannabis has had on the illegal markets.

“It’s a bit early to tell and we’ve had that conversation with different agencies and police forces across the province are trying to sort that out as well. The other complicating factor here is the federal government hasn’t been able to provide the quantity of product people were looking for and they are probably going back to their old markets to meet that demand.”

The proposed amendments would make it an offence to possess more than 30 grams of non-medical cannabis in a public place. Similar federal prohibitions already exist under The Excise Act, 2001 and The Cannabis Act but provincial inspectors appointed under The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act cannot enforce those laws.

Creating the proposed new provincial offences would enable inspectors, including Manitoba Finance officers who enforce provincial tobacco laws, to take action against those who possess illicit cannabis in Manitoba. It would also give police the option to proceed by way of a ticket for possession over 30 grams rather than going through the more complex process of charging an individual criminally. The fine amounts for all new offences would be determined by regulation.

The proposed amendments would also make it an offence to possess cannabis that is not packaged, stamped and labelled in accordance with federal legislation.  This would preserve the integrity of the legal retail cannabis market by prohibiting the possession of illicit cannabis.

Cullen noted that exemptions in the legislation would ensure that individuals can still remove cannabis from its original packaging for storage and consumption.

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