Article by Solomon Israel, Leaf News
Manitoba’s Green, Liberal, and NDP leaders say they’d permit the legal home cultivation of cannabis, if their respective parties win the 2019 provincial election.
The incumbent Progressive Conservatives were the only one of Manitoba’s four biggest political parties to decline a Free Press request to interview their leader (Brian Pallister) about cannabis policy.
Before legalization, the Pallister government was fond of portraying marijuana legalization as a rushed initiative foisted upon the provinces by the federal government. Despite that, PC cannabis policy has successfully given Manitobans in some the most populated parts of the province access to legal, government-regulated marijuana through a growing network of privately-operated stores.
Twenty-four cannabis store licences have been issued so far, and more are on the way for rural communities. Ultimately, the PCs have said they want 90 per cent of Manitobans to have access to legal cannabis within a 30-minute drive.
But even with a growing number of places to buy weed in Manitoba, PC policy has left some Manitobans with nowhere to legally use the legal drug. Provincial restrictions on smoking and vaporizing recreational cannabis are stricter than those for tobacco, and the fine for using cannabis in public in Manitoba is $672.
Although Manitoba law doesn’t currently ban the public use of ingestible forms of cannabis such as oils, gel capsules and oral sprays, the PC government has hinted the law might be expanded in the future.
The PCs took a restrictive stance on legal home cannabis cultivation, which the federal government permits for adults in limited amounts (up to four plants per household). Manitoba joined Quebec in banning home cannabis cultivation — growing even a single cannabis plant in Manitoba without a valid medical permit is punishable by a $2,542 fine.
Green Party of Manitoba Leader James Beddome said reversing the home cannabis cultivation ban would be “one of the best things we can do” to help suppress the black market for cannabis.
Beddome said he’d like to see laws on public cannabis consumption eased, citing the example of Alberta (where cannabis smoking is permitted in some of the same places as tobacco and municipal governments can add their own restrictions). He also made the case for licensed cannabis consumption sites, comparable to bars.
“It creates opportunities for tourism, where there’s probably a lot of people from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and other bordering (U.S.) states that might be interested in coming up,” Beddome said.
Beddome and Manitoba Liberal Party Leader Dougald Lamont both cast doubt on the PC government’s claims about provincial cannabis revenues. (Last November, Pallister told the Association of Manitoba Municipalities not to expect cannabis revenue-sharing because: “There’s no profit in cannabis.”)