The Legalization of Cannabis: What You Need To Know

Cannabis will become legal to purchase and consume in Manitoba as of October 17, 2018. The framework for the legalization of cannabis is complex, and there are many things Manitobans should know to avoid getting in trouble with the law.

Cannabis can only be bought from retailers authorized by the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA). The retailers authorized by the LGCA are private entities who are overseen by the Authority. You must be at least 19 years old to purchase and consume cannabis, and any cannabis sales which occur outside the purview of the LGCA are illegal.

The rules governing the public consumption of cannabis will be linked to The Non-Smokers Health Protection and Vapour Products Act; the consumption of cannabis will be forbidden on streets and sidewalks, in enclosed public areas, and on school and healthcare facility grounds. In short, you can only smoke cannabis on your private residence (including in your backyard).

Currently, retailers are not permitted to sell edible cannabis products; this effectively means that the sale and distribution of edibles is illegal. This said, the legislative framework does provide for individuals making cannabis edibles at home; the edibles can thus be shared and consumed, but not sold. Within a year, there may be legislative framework created to allow the sale of edibles.

The age restriction for cannabis was put in place to protect youth; this youth protection strategy extends to manufacturers, who are limited in their ability to advertise and distribute cannabis in a way that would appeal to those under 18 years of age. The federal framework creates a penalty of up to 14 years in jail for sharing or selling cannabis to a youth under the age of 18; Manitoban law extends that age to 19.

Manitobans can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis at one time in public. Though federal law permits growing up to four cannabis plants, Manitoba has legislated a ban on home cannabis growth. This could end up being a contentious legal issue, as federal criminal law supersedes provincial law; Manitoba has proposed non-criminal fines as a deterrent to home growth.

Driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal, and amendments to federal law through Bill C-46 could have serious consequences for offenders. THC may remain detectable for longer than its effects, so a roadside test may not give an accurate depiction of the driver’s state of inebriety at the time of testing. The penalties for cannabis related driving offenses are steep, as they are for alcohol offenses.

The new cannabis laws are complicated, and tensions between provincial and federal legislation create a complex legal framework to navigate. Should you be charged with a cannabis related offense, before or after legalization, you need an effective criminal defense lawyer to strategize and present your case. Attorneys often offer free consultations, so it’s always advantageous to call and see how they can help you find your way through the legal waterways.