Manitoba to poll residents on marijuana use ahead of legislation
Flowering marijuana plants are pictured during a tour of Tweed in Smiths Falls, Ontario on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, July 12, 2017 4:47AM EDT
WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government plans to poll residents about their marijuana consumption and what kind of rules they would like to see when recreational pot is legalized next year.
The provincial liquor and gaming authority is looking for a company to do 15-minute surveys of at least 1,200 Manitobans in the coming months as it prepares for the new law.
"We don't have a great understanding about cannabis as a substance and how people use it," said Kristianne Dechant, the authority's communications and research manager.
"And this is really unlike with liquor and gambling - which are two products that we currently regulate - where we have a great understanding about the gaps in people's knowledge."
Dechant said the aim is to develop ways to advise people about safe levels of consumption - whether the cannabis be eaten, smoked or otherwise ingested.
"I think Manitobans are really looking to the province to define what responsible use could look like and to provide information about how, if they choose to use it, they could minimize the harm."
Survey results will help shape a "regulatory framework for cannabis that meets public expectations for safety and consumer protection," says the authority's request for proposals issued Tuesday.
The sample must include a reasonable representation across the province, including people between 18 and 24, "as this demographic is notoriously hard to reach, yet of particular interest with respect to cannabis knowledge and choices."
The federal government is setting a minimum age of 18 for pot use, but many of the details are being left to the provinces, including how and where cannabis will be sold when the law takes effect next July.
Manitoba has yet to determine where pot will be available at the retail level and whether the liquor and gaming authority, or some other agency, will regulate it.Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government asked Ottawa last December to delay its plan for legalization.
Premier Brian Pallister said there were many details still to be worked out, including who would pay for increased police resources. He also said a big awareness campaign was needed to convince people of the dangers of driving while using cannabis.