Legislative Amendments To Address Pending Legalization Of Cannabis

In preparation for the federal legalization of recreational cannabis, the Manitoba government is moving forward with further legislative amendments that would responsibly regulate use of the drug in public places and on roads, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson and Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today. 

“Our government is committed to protecting the public health and safety of Manitobans as we address the federal government’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis,” said Stefanson. “Manitobans of all ages deserve to be protected from people impaired by cannabis.” 

Changes to The Non-Smokers Health Protection and Vapour Products Act are consistent with the approach taken to alcohol consumption under The Liquor and Gaming Control Act. Once proclaimed, the bill would prohibit smoking and vaping cannabis in outdoor public places once recreational use of the drug is legalized, including:

  • streets and sidewalks;
  • parks and beaches;
  • school grounds;
  • restaurant patios and decks;
  • the grounds of health-care facilities; and
  • any additional places that may be specified by regulation.

The changes build on The Cannabis Harm Prevention Act passed last year, which prohibits smoking or vaping of cannabis in enclosed public places, indoor workplaces and other areas, with the exception of designated rooms in a hospital’s palliative care unit or an end-of-life hospice. Those amendments will come into force on April 1, said Goertzen.

“Ensuring the health and well-being of Manitobans is of utmost importance to our government in moving forward with this legislation,” said Goertzen.  “We also have concerns about ‘normalizing’ this activity in public places, as it could encourage children and youth to use cannabis.”

Meanwhile, The Impaired Driving Offences Act responds to the impaired driving provisions in the federal government’s Bill C-46. It introduces new provincial sanctions for drivers who fail oral fluid drug screening devices and for drivers who commit one of the new Criminal Code offences outlined in Bill C-46.

The Impaired Driving Offences Act would establish tough provincial sanctions meant to ensure no one gets behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming cannabis, said Stefanson.

The proposed amendments to The Drivers and Vehicles Act and The Highway Traffic Act would include new administrative driver’s licence suspensions for impaired driving. Novice drivers would also be prohibited from driving if they fail a roadside drug screening test, Stefanson said.

Other changes include:

  • updating the list of offences that must be reported to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, along with the list of suspensions and disqualifications that can be appealed to the Licence Suspension Appeal Board;
  • revising the list of offences for which a conviction reduces or cancels the entitlement to receive compensation underThe Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation Act; and
  • making related amendments toThe Blood Test Act and The Provincial Offences Act.

“Drugged driving is every bit as dangerous and potentially harmful as drunk driving,” said Stefanson. “These changes will allow our province to move in lockstep with other jurisdictions and ensure drugged drivers face stiff consequences for their actions.” 

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