What You Need to Know About Manitoba’s Proposed Weed Law

Another province wants to crack down on stoned driving ahead of weed legalization, but medical users are protesting the bill.

by Mack Lamoureux
Mar 26 2017, 6:02pm

Photo via flickr user tanj.

Manitoba is one of the first provinces attempting to amend their laws in anticipation of weed legalization in Canada.

In doing so, the province's Progressive Conservative government introduced Bill 25 (titled the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act) into the legislature on March 20—since then, confusion and criticism have been directed non-stop towards the bill.

So, here's what you need to know if you like to get icky in the land of 1,000 lakes.

The main take away from all this (a tl;dr, if you will) is that when weed is legalized Manitoba will basically treat it as alcohol. To do this, the bill amends seven acts within the province, including the human trafficking act, the traffic act, the drivers and vehicles act, the mental health act, and the non-smoking act.

The biggest of these will be the change to the traffic act, which will see an officer allowed to suspend your licence for 24 hours is he believes you to be driving while high—you also can't smoke it while driving, in case you were wondering. Weed will also need to be transported in a similarly way as alcohol (secured and away from driver's reach.)

The other acts include the off-road act which will be amended, again, so weed is governed similar to alcohol when operating off-road vehicles. The mental health act will be amended so that cannabis can't be given to "residents in a mental health facility," and the non-smoking act will be amended to include weed.

The amendment to the public school's act makes it so that, obviously, weed is prohibited in schools. Lastly, the human trafficking and child exploitation will be amended so that you can't use marijuana as a tool to exploit or traffic people.

That's basically it, weed will kinda be treated like alcohol, so why are people mad?

Read more: Stoned Drivers Now Face the Same Penalties as Drunk Drivers in Ontario

Well, there is one thing that isn't addressed in these laws—the medical use of marijuana. Due to that oversight, pot advocates, experts, and the opposition NDP party have heavily criticized the government for not consulting with experts on the subject. One critic called it a "slap in the face" to medical marijuana patients.

On Saturday, a small group of protesters made their way to the legislature to protest the proposed law, arguing the proposed amendments target both recreational and medical cannabis users. An expert told the CBC that there isn't enough research on driving while high to legislate on it. Others have called Bill 25 a good first step but lament it doesn't address all the complexities of legalizing weed.

Read more: How High is Too High To Drive?

"It would have been nice if [Manitoba] would have consulted with some experts on cannabis or even if they would have consulted with the scientific literature—if they would have done their due diligence," Zach Walsh, who studies marijuana usage at UBC, told the CBC.

"I think [this proposed legislation] is uninformed."

Meanwhile, Manitoba's minister of justice, Heather Stefanson, said that with the looming legalization, the province is focused on the "safety and health of all Manitobans."

"This legislation would be an early step by our government to target drug-impaired driving and prioritize the health and safety of Manitoba youth."

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