March 27, 2017 5:25 pm
Updated: March 27, 2017 9:39 pm

‘The summer will be very green’: Local marijuana advocates planning busy schedule of protests

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WINNIPEG — It’s only been a few hours since Winnipeg cannabis advocate Steven Stairs heard about plans to make marijuana legal by 2018, and already he is planning a series of events and protests.

Stairs said the province is taking a step backward, by tabling a new bill that would treat marijuana laws similar to alcohol. He hosted a protest on the front steps of the Legislative building, and he said there is more where that came from.

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“I am honestly a little worried, but I think it gives us an opportunity locally to really fight for what is best for Manitobans,” Stairs said.

RELATED: Canada to legalize pot by July 1, 2018: report

In a statement to Global News, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould confirmed legislation that could legalize marijuana would be introduced in the “spring” but no timetable was given.

Under that legislation, the federal government would be responsible for licensing marijuana producers, and making sure everything is safe.

It would be up to the provinces to determine how marijuana is sold, what the legal age limit will be, and how much it will cost.

RELATED: B.C. marijuana activist skeptical about reports it could be legal in Canada by July, 2018

Stairs said advocates will be making their voice heard, in hopes of making sure provincial laws are fair for everyone.

“We don’t want the cannabis users, and the people who have built this community to be left out of the legalization moving forward.”

RELATED: Winnipeg marijuana shop owner gains support on court date

A new cannabis access centre has recently opened on Broadway, helping people in need of medicinal marijuana access the services they need.

Manager at National Access Cannabis Devin Sprague said the new legislation could be positive for the community, but it will change the image of locations like his.

READ MORE: Winnipeg opens cannabis education centre, hosts convention

“It will affect us if we stay with the medical side only, but we will definitely see if we can try to re-brand to see if we can get into the adult recreation market too,” Sprague said.

The province was not available for an interview, but did release a statement on the potential 2018 legalization date.

“We have been preparing for expected federal legislation through extensive research and consultation and will further review the policies of their legislation when it’s introduced. An area of concern that we have taken a proactive approach on is public safety. Our government recently introduced the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act, which proposes an interim solution that addresses the threat of driver impairment,” Justice minister Heather Stefanson said.

RELATED: NDP leadership hopefuls take pot shots at Liberals over marijuana legalization

Stairs said the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act will create barriers for people using medicinal marijuana on a daily basis.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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