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Feds stop in Winnipeg to talk pot

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WATCH: Manitobans aired their concerns about the federal plan to legalize marijuana at a public meeting in Winnipeg Tuesday. Global's Timm Bruch reports. – Dec 20, 2017

Dozens of Manitobans voiced their concerns over the proposed legalization of marijuana with the country’s point man on pot Tuesday.

MP Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, stopped into Winnipeg as part of an ongoing tour that aims to educate on and clarify the federal government’s proposed marijuana legislation.

READ MORE: Pot to be sold from private retail locations in Manitoba, supply handled by Liquor and Lotteries

Blair fielded questions from marijuana advocates, politicians and First Nations representatives, talking about topics ranging from impaired driving to possession penalties.

“Many people are very fearful of change but the current system is failing our kids and communities,” Blair said. “When we properly explain what can actually be achieved through very responsible regulation, people are reassured by that.

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“This is a pretty significant policy shift. We want it to be evidence-based but we also want it to be consulted on.”

On Tuesday, many of the town hall’s questions revolved around First Nations pot collaboration. Dennis Cameron, who attended the forum, said he hopes both the federal and provincial governments take Indigenous businesses into account while finalizing their plans.

RELATED: Manitoba says no to homegrown pot, unveils legal age to buy

“This is a whole new door that’s been opened, a whole new path we’re going to be walking on,” Cameron said. “As a First Nations member, [I want to know] where do we fit into the equation?”

Blair also addressed the Fed’s relationship with Brian Pallister’s PC government, saying that the sides have had “useful conversations” as the country approaches July’s legalization date. Pallister has previously stated the federal government’s deadline is too soon.

READ MORE: Manitoba municipality votes ‘no’ to pot

On Tuesday, Blair said that he’s confident both governments have the same interest in mind: protecting communities and families.

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“I’m very confident [Manitoba’s proposed plan] is appropriate to Manitoba. “I’m very grateful for the work that the Manitoba government and the premier have done.”

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