For some, it’s a long time coming. For others, it’s the first step towards a slippery slope, and for others, it’s an economic opportunity. But regardless of your stance on the federal government decision to legalize cannabis, three things are clear. Legalized marijuana is coming, it will have an impact on businesses, and the province is taking a steady approach regarding how they handle this foundational change. The latter was on full display during Justice Minister Heather Stefanson’s time on the podium at the MBiz Breakfast Series presented by 6P Marketing on May 31.
The timely and divisive topic of legalized cannabis covered the entire 35-plus minute speech and Q & A with the Minister. The justice minister spent the first portion of her speech covering the province’s plan for legalization, one that includes a legal age for purchase and recreational use of marijuana of 19, allowing for municipalities to determine if they will sell it in the community, and ensuring only cannabis grown by federally authorized producers be sold at retail locations. It was during the Q & A with Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president and CEO Chuck Davidson where the minister spent a fair amount of time tempering the notion of legal cannabis being some massive revenue boost for the province. In fact, she said it could be quite the opposite. In the opinion of the minister and the province, the costs associated with awareness, prevention, and advancing technology in helping law enforcement detect cannabis will play a factor and could outweigh any revenues.
Minister Stefanson also used her closing comments to push back a bit at the perception that the government is moving at a glacial pace as implementation looms. Stefanson shot back that was far from accurate and lauded the government as one of the more proactive governments in preparing for, as she called it, “arguably one of the largest public-policy changes that we will face in our generation.”
We would like to extend our thanks to Minister Stefanson for being our guest. We would also like to thank series presenter 6P Marketing, and series sponsors and partners CPHR Manitoba, CPA Manitoba, Travel Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Free Press.