Consult with Medical Cannabis Users on Legislation, NDP Urges Manatoba

Article by Aidan Geary, CBC News

Progressive Conservative government introduced proposed new rules on cannabis ahead of federal legalization. Two men pass a marijuana joint at Cannabis Culture in Montreal in a December 16, 2016, file photo. Not all medicinal marijuana is created equal. That's what some experts are saying as they warn about the health risks and curtailed effectiveness associated with smoking medicine

The Manitoba NDP has added its voice to a handful of critics with concerns about how the province’s proposed new cannabis legislation will affect medical users.

NDP justice critic Andrew Swan argued on Thursday the proposed legislation ignores the needs of medical cannabis users in the province and requested the province consult with medical users before the bill goes further.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said on CBC Manitoba’s Up To Speed the province did not consult medical cannabis users specifically in drafting the legislation. Groups the province did consult include Winnipeg police, RCMP, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, CancerCare and the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The legislation, which Stefanson introduced on Monday, would bring in restrictions for marijuana similar to those for alcohol, banning people from consuming it in a vehicle and giving police the right to suspend a driver’s licence for 24 hours if they thought the person was under the influence of the drug.

In a written statement sent to CBC News by her office on Thursday, Stefanson said the legislation is a “stop-gap measure” designed to maintain road safety as the province waits for direction from the federal government regarding legalization of marijuana.

“It is clear that there are public safety issues related to impaired drivers in Manitoba, as shown in the results of the MPI survey that indicated about one in 10 drivers tested positive for drugs,” she said in the statement.

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