Cannabis referendum in RM of Wallace-Woodworth

What you need to know on Oct. 24

Besides electing council representation on Oct 24, voters in the RM of Wallace-Woodworth have a referendum regarding cannabis sale in the municipality.

A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote will answer the following question: “Should licensed retail cannabis stores be allowed in the Municipality of Wallace-Woodworth?”

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Results of the referendum vote will be forwarded to both the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and to the Province.

Chief Administrative Officer Garth Mitchell explained that to date, the municipality has not received notice of any requests to allow a cannabis dispensary. However, months ago, when the topic arose regarding whether Wallace-Woodworth would approve a cannabis outlet, Councillor Canart suggested the matter be put to a public vote.

Deputy Mayor Sandy Heaman explained, “I think all of us had the same concerns. There are many unknowns in terms of, what will the social impact be, are we going to need additional policing, what will the support be.”

Municipal responsibility

When council first discussed the matter some items such as, the legal age limit and how impaired driving would be tested, were still under discussion provincially.

Heaman said, “It’s one of those issues that people have an opinion about… we felt it was important to let the ratepayers weigh in.”

She adds that the license for a cannabis store doesn’t come from the RM.

Manitoba Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA) will regulate, license, inspect and audit the industry while the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MBLL) will administer central order processing and manage distribution to licensed private sector retailers.

Municipalities are responsible in part for: 

•           Retail locations and rules

•           Public consumption

Land use/zoning is the only category that is the sole purview of municipalities. (www.gov.mb.ca/cannabis/canadacannabisact.html)

RCMP perspective

Staff Sgt. Frizzley, Westman RCMP Commander, explained that this is Federal legislation coming into effect, Oct. 17, but, “The province can provide legislation, similar to the Liquor Control Act.”

He is not expecting more violent crime out of this change in legislation, but possibly more impairment. “Definitely, driving is going to be one of our biggest focuses.”

At this date, only municipal police in the towns of Rivers and Morden are reported to have the roadside saliva testing device.

Will RCMP have access to the test unit? “That’s something that we are waiting to hear about,” says Frizzley. RCMP officers are, however, trained to recognize physical signs of cannabis impairment.

Considering public safety on the roads, Frizzley states, “There’s just as many accidents caused by cell phones, right now, as there is by alcohol.”

Just like alcohol, cannabis must be purchased from a legally licensed outlet and you can’t have “open” cannabis in the vehicle, use it in a vehicle or drive high.

“Dealing with cannabis is not that new for police agencies. It’s just now, switching gears to adapt to the new legislation and enforce that.

“Knowing some of the effects of cannabis, dealing with it, I haven’t had any experience with anybody being violent because of it. With any drug, there’s going to be problems. It’s bringing it out more in the open now.”

He does expect cannabis use to increase and is not optimistic that the use of scheduled substances, such as meth and cocaine will diminish. Using cannabis along with other drugs or alcohol will result in more impairment and stiffer penalties.

A discussion paper explains why the federal government brought in changes, legalizing recreational use of cannabis. (www.canada.ca/en/health-canada)

The current approach to marijuana prohibition is not working:

 

•           Youth continue to use marijuana at rates among the highest in the world.

•           Thousands of Canadians end up with criminal records for non-violent drug offences each year.

•           Organized crime reaps billions of dollars in profits from its sale.

•           Most Canadians no longer believe that simple marijuana possession should be subject to harsh criminal sanctions, and support the Government's commitment to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

•          

Information for Cannabis in Manitoba www.gov.mb.ca/cannabis/index.html:

RISKS

•           Can be addictive

•           Can lead to depression and anxiety

•           Will affect brain development

•           Will impair your ability to drive

•           Can harm your baby

•           Is risky to buy on the street

•           Growing weed at home is not going to be legal in

KNOW THE LAW

•           You must be 19+

•           You can only buy from licensed retailers

•           You can only carry up to 30 grams

•           You can't use in public

•           You can't grow at home

© 2018 Virden Empire-Advance

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