Pot decriminalization a ‘safety’ risk
Manitoba to introduce bill to address concerns about federal plan
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/03/2017 (2275 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba’s justice minister said she’s “very concerned about the safety of Manitobans” as Ottawa moves towards decriminalizing marijuana.
Heather Stefanson said she will introduce a bill today to address health and safety issues in advance of the federal legislation.
She said she is troubled by the results of a drug and alcohol roadside survey that found that one in 10 Manitobans tested positive for some form of drug.
The Cannabis Harm Prevention Act (Bill 25) will amend various provincial laws, including the Highway Traffic Act, Stefanson said Wednesday.
She refused to provide details in advance of its introduction.
Unsure of the timing of federal legislation, Stefanson said the province has decided to take a proactive approach to ensure that when it does come forward that “we already have some checks and balances in place.”
“I can’t predict what the federal bill is going to look like. All we can do is control what is in our purview and that’s exactly what we’ll do in this legislation,” she told reporters.
She noted that more than half of drivers with drugs in their systems in the Manitoba Public Insurance survey tested positive for cannabis.
Stefanson said there is some question whether there are adequate tests available to measure impairment due to marijuana.
“The technology is not necessarily there yet. So we need to look for other ways and different tools that we can provide to our law enforcement officials,” she said, adding that she has met with various stakeholders — including MADD Manitoba and the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba — that share her concerns.
“Our primary concern, first and foremost, is the safety and security of Manitobans. I have two kids that are teenagers. I’m concerned about their safety, their friends’ safety and the safety of all children in Manitoba,” Stefanson said.
When asked about the significant portion of drivers testing positive for drugs who had cocaine in their systems, Stefanson noted that police officers who believe someone is intoxicated can pull over a driver.
NDP justice critic Andrew Swan said the survey highlights the need for closer co-operation between MPI and the provincial government to make sure drivers have the information they need about the effects of drug and alcohol use.
“Like every Manitoban, I’m surprised that the rate (of drug use) would be that high,” he said.
Swan said the Pallister government needs to work co-operatively with Ottawa on the issue and not pick fights with the federal government as it has on other issues.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.