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Winnipeg cannabis worker reflects on two years of legal pot

The federal government legalized cannabis two years ago Oct. 17.
The federal government legalized cannabis two years ago Oct. 17. Northumberland OPP

Two years to the day after the federal government legalized cannabis, a Winnipeg marijuana professional who is currently suing the province over the right to grow pot plants at home said legalization has been a boon for government coffers — and offers a model to the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, Canadians and Manitobans’ attitudes toward the drug have changed too, Canopy Growth employee Jesse Lavoie said.

“I’d say acceptance is a big thing, a lot of people who were really against it now see that there’s an industry, tax dollars — it’s not as harmful as they thought it would be, so I think people’s attitude toward it has changed in a positive way,” Lavoie said.

Read more: COVID-19 pandemic a ‘boon’ for legal cannabis in Canada as marijuana industry turns two

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The booming industry — In July, licensed marijuana stores sold more than $231 million in product, a 15-per cent increase from June’s sales, which marked the biggest monthly jump since the country legalized cannabis — has come a long way since Oct. 17, 2018, Lavoie said.

Lavoie, a former prison guard who cold-called his way into a job at Toronto-based Namaste Technologies before he was head-hunted to work for Canopy Growth, wants to see changes to the regulations surrounding the industry and cannabis itself in Manitoba and the country at large.

In a previous interview, Lavoie said he suffered for years from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to an incident at his prison job, and used cannabis to help.

“We took a product that was illegal and turned it into an industry, so I know rules had to be strict from the onset, but we’re two years in now and I’d love to see some of those regulations loosening,” Lavoie said.

“Number one would be advertising, so when you’re watching a sports game or your favourite tv shows — that brewery commercial comes on, it shows how the beer is made, a bunch of people enjoying it — I’d like to see high definition commercials for cannabis, going through the growing process.”

Meanwhile, his legal battle against Manitoba’s government — the only province in Canada where’s it illegal to grow cannabis at home after a similar constitutional challenge struck down Quebec’s home grown pot ban — is moving forward, with court filing dates set through to next spring.

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Challenging homegrown pot ban