Manitoba NDP could lift home grow ban

| Staff

The Manitoba government is expected to table legislation as early as the week of April 22 that could lift the province’s ban on residents growing cannabis at home. 

The province originally banned growing cannabis at home in 2018. While Canada’s federal regulations allow people to grow up to four plants per household, courts in Canada have upheld the right of provinces to “limit to zero” the number of plants someone grows at home, which works as an effective ban on the activity. 

The ban does not include those who are authorized to grow cannabis for medical purposes.

Bill 34, The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Amendment Act, has been expected to be tabled in the House for the last several weeks, but it was delayed due to the release of the provincial budget and other priorities. Rumours have swirled for weeks that the legislation would include language lifting the home grow ban, and City News Manitoba first broke the embargo on this detail on April 19.

The contents of Bill 34 are still not known. 

The Manitoba NDP, led by leader and now-premier Wab Kinew, formed a majority government in an election in October 2023, defeating the Progressive Conservative government that had been in power since 2016. Then-Premier Brian Pallister said at the time that banning home cultivation of cannabis would protect children and undermine the illicit market.

Quebec and Manitoba were the only two provinces to challenge federal authority, banning home growing entirely, as did the Territory of Nunavut. While Quebec’s rules implement fines for those found growing cannabis, Manitoba’s ban creates criminal penalties and a $2,542 fine for growing non-medical cannabis in a residence.

Quebec’s ban on growing cannabis at home was challenged in the courts, making its way to the Supreme Court, which upheld the province’s right to do so. 

In 2023, a Manitoba court also ruled that the province’s ban on growing cannabis at home could stay in place after facing a similar challenge. The organization that challenged the law recently filed another appeal in March 2024. 

That group, TobaGrown, has noted that the Manitoba NDP, including Wab Kinew, had expressed support for lifting the ban previous to forming government, a commitment the group’s founder Jesse Lavoie has been pressuring the party to uphold. 

“Since the NDP was elected in October 2023, we have consistently communicated that our preference would be to see the law changed by the government, not the courts,” said Lavoie earlier this year.

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