One month before the drug is officially legal across Canada, Manitoba’s provincial government has established the consequences of offenses related to cannabis.
On Sept. 13, Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced preset fines for various infractions involving the controlled substance. The penalties, which range from $113 to $2542, were established to be similar to those involving alcohol-related offenses.
The fines set out by the province are related to the supply of cannabis to anyone under the age of 19; growing recreational cannabis within a residence; smoking and vaping the drug in provincial parks; transporting improperly-stored cannabis; consumption of the drug in or on vehicles, including off-road vehicles; and failing drug-screening tests both as a novice and a supervising driver as part of the graduated licensing program.
Establishing the fines allows individuals charged with an offense to pay their penalty without requiring an appearance in court. This should relieve pressure on the justice system by having offenses related cannabis rectified outside of court.
As far as public consumption of marijuana, the provincial legislation, again, mirrors what is found with offenses related to alcohol. Smoking and vaping the substance in shared public spaces such as roadways and beaches within provincial park boundaries has been prohibited, and restrictions will be established for the use of cannabis in government operated camping facilities. These include campsites, public areas near yurts and cabins, remote canoe routes and trails, and outdoor activity amenities in the back-country.
Exceptions will be made for the medical use of cannabis and for its use in private residences and private cottages within parks. Private businesses are also being allowed to establish their own rules regarding the use of the drug by their patrons.
A week before Cullen’s announcement, the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority (LGCA) – the provincial body regulating the retail sale of cannabis in Manitoba – announced a campaign to educate the public about the legislation. Called the “Can and Can’t of Cannabis,” the initiative fulfills the organizations mandate to develop and maintain educational programming that promotes its safe use.
The campaign focuses on five factors regarding the regulations surrounding marijuana. They include the prohibition of public consumption; the legal age to purchase and consume; where it must be purchased; the prohibition of growing cannabis within homes; and how much can be carried in public at any one time.
The LGCA is launching a second phase of its educational campaign once the drug is legalized in October. This initiative will focus on the safe use of cannabis.
“Our government is committed to protecting the health and safety of Manitobans as we manage the consequences of the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis,” Cullen said in a media release about the preset penalties.
“Our government has introduced a number of laws relating to cannabis in the interest of public safety and these fines ensure we are open and transparent with Manitobans about the consequences of breaking the law.”