Brian Pallister talks pot legalization age, delivers state of the province address

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is set to give his second state of the province address Thursday.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is set to give his second state of the province address Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Sudoma

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister gave his second state of the province address on Thursday.

Pallister addressed the Winnipeg business community at the RBC Convention Centre around 12:40 p.m.

The premier discussed the direction the province is moving, details of the government’s economic strategy, marijuana legislation and health care changes.

The premier also unveiled a team that will be dedicated to developing a new economic strategy for the province. It’s made up of former CEO and president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Dave Angus and Barb Gamey, the co-founder of Payworks.

The two will set up a board and have six months to come up with a new approach for economic growth.

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The premier also talked about why the government set 19 as the legal age to consume marijuana.

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“Nineteen is like any choice of age, would be an arbitrary selection. I suppose you could argue why not 21, 25?” Pallister said.

Other provinces, such as Ontario and British Columbia have matched their legal marijuana age to their drinking age.

The Premier said part of the reason his government chose 19 was to keep it out of students’ hands.

“We know that 19 from much of the input we’ve received will assist in reducing the likelihood of presence of cannabis within schools,” he said.

The Manitoba School Boards Association (MSBA) wanted the legal age to be 21, but they’re happy it’s older than the drinking age.

“Half of the children in our school system today turn 18 before Grade 12 is over so this will certainly help to make sure our schools remain safe communities for everyone to learn,” Josh Watt, MSBA Executive Director said.

For now The province has just over six months until marijuana is legalized.

The president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, Loren Remillard, was asked by 680 CJOB if he thinks the province is headed in the right direction.

“We’re a year and a half into this new government’s mandate we know the focus on getting change in government, being more efficient, achieving better outcomes and doing so at a more cost effective basis for Manitobans is the priority. So again, the focus is the right one,” Remillard said.

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Remillard said he supports government efforts to do fiscal housecleaning and deal with the debt, but he hopes to hear about how the province plans to help drive the local economy.

“We believe the private sector is the one that drives economic growth, not government, but government has a role to play in creating a strategy,” he said.

Pallister’s first state of the province address last year saw more than 1,300 people in attendance.

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