Manitoba government promises new conflict of interest rules by fall

Manitoba politicians can expect new conflict of interest rules to be introduced in the fall.

In a statement, Progressive Conservative House leader Cliff Cullen acknowledged a recent report by the province's conflict of interest commissioner, who called Manitoba's current legislation perhaps the "weakest in the country."

"We plan to establish an all-party committee to provide input on this matter as it impacts all MLAs, with legislation to follow after the next speech from the throne. This all-party task force will lead revised legislation," Cullen wrote.

The Tories defeated a private members bill on Thursday authored by Independent Assiniboia MLA Steven Fletcher.


Hemp growers will be able to harvest more material

Hemp growers want in on the nutraceutical market, but until now regulations have limited them to harvesting hemp grain and fibre. That might be about to change when cannabis becomes legal.

Farmers may soon be able to harvest the whole hemp plant, including the leaves and flowers they are currently required to throw away.

Health Canada has just completed consultations on the federal government’s proposed framework for legal cannabis, a document that includes regulations that are, “risk based and that allows cultivators of industrial hemp to sell the whole hemp plant to certain persons licensed under the proposed Cannabis Act.”


From pork to pot: Cannabis cultivation in former Winnipeg Maple Leaf meat plant

A Toronto-based pot producer is taking over the former Maple Leaf Foods meat plant in Winnipeg.

GrowForce Holdings has announced it will open its flagship cannabis cultivation facility in the city’s St. Boniface Industrial Park.

It says the 11,000-square-metre facility will employ 150 to 200 people once it’s fully operational next year.

GrowForce CEO Rishi Gautam says the company looked at various cities, including Edmonton and Calgary, but settled on Winnipeg because of reasonable hydro rates and a large skilled workforce.

Gautam says the company purchased the site for about $10 million and plans to invest another $30 million to retrofit the building.


Marijuana cultivation firm to set up shop in city

A major new marijuana cultivation business in Manitoba is being announced today, the Free Press has learned.

GrowForce Holdings Inc. will announce it is setting up a 120,000-square-foot facility in an old meat packing plant in Transcona.

The Toronto-based company is a newly created entity that last month announced the acquisition of WILL Cannabis Group in Brampton, Ont., an authorized licensed producer of cannabis for medical purposes through Health Canada.

A spokesman for the company said GrowForce will use that licence to add the Winnipeg production operation as a second facility. GrowForce has said publicly it plans to build a vertically integrated cannabis platform with cultivation, processing and retail facilities across Canada.


Task force chair says ban on home-grown pot paternalistic, unenforceable

Banning Canadians from growing a few marijuana plants in their homes or backyards once recreational cannabis is legalized would be both paternalistic and unenforceable, former federal justice minister Anne McLellan says.

McLellan, who chaired the federal task force on cannabis legalization, offered that opinion Wednesday during an appearance before the Senate’s social affairs committee, which is examining the federal government’s bill to legalize pot use.

The bill would allow individuals to grow up to four plants per dwelling — a provision that has raised concerns among senators, apartment and condo owners, municipalities and police.


Children's advocate raises concerns over Manitoba pot bill

Manitoba's children's advocate says the province's proposed cannabis legislation fails to address young people.

In a presentation to Manitoba's Standing Committee on Justice Tuesday evening, Daphne Penrose raised numerous issues with Bill 11, the Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act.

Among her biggest concerns: Manitoba's proposed pot laws will result in more youth with criminal records.

"There is zero tolerance for possession of cannabis under the age of 19, so there is a potential for a criminalization of youth and young people," she said. 

Penrose said she wants the province to consider fines and confiscation before charges.

"I think that criminalizing does not help youth and young people," she said.


Winnipeg plans to take hands-off approach to cannabis retail

Chief planner recommends province choose where pot shops can go, but city says windows must be opaque.

The City of Winnipeg has decided not to create any new rules to govern where cannabis can be sold — but clear glass windows won't be allowed at weed stores.

A city working group on cannabis legalization has concluded provincial officials should approve where cannabis retailers can set up within Winnipeg when recreational cannabis use becomes legal, as it is expected to later this year.

In a report to council's property committee, City of Winnipeg chief planner Braden Smith said no new land-use rules are needed to govern where cannabis retailers can and cannot operate within the city.


How much marijuana is too much? Legalization means new questions for police

With legal pot looming, officials are working on training tools for Canada's cops.

Pop quiz: what does 30 grams of marijuana look like?

It's not an abstract question. Under the federal government's proposed cannabis legalization plan, 30 grams of dried marijuana is the maximum a person can legally possess in a public place. Carry any more and you could be subject to fines, jail time, or both.

Policing quantities is a big shift for police officers, who are used to viewing any amount of pot as a potential red flag, said Sandy Sweet of the Canadian Police Knowledge Network, an agency that provides online training courses for police officers.


Are Canadian legalization laws too strict?

Are Canadian legalization laws too strict to be worth the effort?

Legalizing marijuana in Canada will benefit millions of people. First and foremost, people will no longer be incarcerated for minor possession charges. This means fewer arrest records, less government spending on prisons and less longterm impact on the careers and lives of those caught with marijuana. Legalization does, however, vary province by province, and come with a host of bureaucratic complications. Are Canadian legalization laws too strict? Here’s a closer look at the problems marijuana legislation, as it exists today, could cause.

Strict Laws Require Bigger Law Enforcement Budgets


Quebec wants to clarify its right to prevent home cultivation of cannabis

The Quebec government is calling on the Senate to amend the federal bill to legalize cannabis for recreational use to make it clear that provinces have the right to forbid home cultivation.

Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Canadian Relations, Jean-Marc Fournier, told a Senate committee Wednesday that his government wants all legal cannabis to be grown by federally licensed producers, at least in the initial stages of legalization.


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