January 16, 2018

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Manitoba's legal age for cannabis to be set at 19: source

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck</p><p>The minimum age to legally purchase and possess cannabis in the province after it is legalized will be 19 years old.</p>

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The minimum age to legally purchase and possess cannabis in the province after it is legalized will be 19 years old.

Manitobans will have to be at least 19 years of age to legally purchase and possess cannabis in the province after it is legalized, the Free Press has learned.

The minimum age will be part of a new bill to be introduced today at the Manitoba Legislative Building, according to a government source familiar with the matter.

According to the legislature’s Monday notice paper, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson is scheduled to introduce the Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act.

The federal government’s Cannabis Act, which is not yet law, would set the federal minimum age for purchase and possession of marijuana at 18. Provincial and territorial governments are free to raise that age.

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Manitobans will have to be at least 19 years of age to legally purchase and possess cannabis in the province after it is legalized, the Free Press has learned.

The minimum age will be part of a new bill to be introduced today at the Manitoba Legislative Building, according to a government source familiar with the matter.

According to the legislature’s Monday notice paper, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson is scheduled to introduce the Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act.

The federal government’s Cannabis Act, which is not yet law, would set the federal minimum age for purchase and possession of marijuana at 18. Provincial and territorial governments are free to raise that age.

Setting the legal age for purchasing cannabis at 19 would bring Manitoba in line with Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, which have also chosen 19 as the legal age to buy cannabis.

Quebec and Alberta, however, plan to set their legal age for cannabis at 18.

The legal age to purchase alcohol in Manitoba is 18.

Meanwhile, the federal government is willing to give provinces and territories a bigger share of the revenue from a federal excise tax on cannabis, provided the extra money is devoted to helping municipalities cope with the impact of legalizing recreational pot.

The feds have proposed giving provincial and territorial governments half of the estimated $1-billion annual excise tax take once marijuana becomes legal next July. However, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his officials have signalled a willingness to increase that share during discussions with their provincial and territorial counterparts.

The discussions have been taking place in preparation for a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers Dec. 10-11, where the issue of cannabis taxation is expected to be front and centre.

Any increase in the provincial share will obviously mean less for federal coffers. But precisely how much less than the 50 per cent the federal government is willing to accept has not yet been revealed.

A government official close to the discussions, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said it’s too early to float specific numbers. The final decision will rest on an assessment of the needs of the municipalities — and a willingness by provinces and territories to agree to devote the extra revenue to those needs, the official said.

— with files from The Canadian Press

solomon.israel@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sol_israel

Read more by Solomon Israel .

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