Manitoba Wants to Set Limit on Marijuana Consumption in Public Places

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The Manitoba government is moving to set restrictions on marijuana similar to those on alcohol.

Proposed legislation would list marijuana as an intoxicant and ban people from consuming it in a vehicle.

Police would also have the right to suspend a driver's licence for 24 hours — similar to an alcohol provision — if they thought a person was under the influence of pot.

Medical marijuana user and legalization advocate, Steven Stairs said he is disappointed by the proposed legislation.

He called it overly broad and said it fails to distinguish medical marijuana use from recreational consumption.

"If I'm a medical user and I have pot in my car, do I have to put it in my trunk too? That is kind of stupid," he said.

"So the police can pull you over and say 'you look stoned we're going to arrest you,' well what if I was really tired or what I have some allergies?" Stairs said.

"Unless you can prove how impaired I am with a tool or a test, I don't think it's fair."

Under the new bill, marijuana, like tobacco, could not be smoked in enclosed public places.

Stairs also wants to know how the proposed legislation would impact people who use marijuana for medical reasons.

Justice Minister Heather Stefanson says the province is laying the groundwork for when the federal government legalizes cannabis.

"This is by no means the end of this this, this is just the beginning," Stefanson said, adding more bills could be coming on marijuana restrictions and how it impacts drivers.

"We're actually the only province across Canada that's bringing forward this kind of legislation now to help deal with some of the safety and health issues, so we're out in front of this," Stefanson said.

Stefanson said today's bill is about making roads safer for Manitobans in the interim.

NDP justice critic Andrew Swan said the opposition party generally agrees the province must put in place to ensure pot consumption remains safe but he said the rules should be reasonable.

If someone has "a trace of marijuana" in their system and is not impaired, they should not have their licence taken away, said Swan.

The Manitoba bill says public schools would be required to ban marijuana under their codes of conduct, even after it becomes legal.

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