Manitoba passes legislation to allow growing cannabis at home

| David Brown

Manitobans will soon be able to legally grow cannabis at home.

Bill 34, The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Amendment Act, which repealed Manitoba’s ban on growing up to four cannabis plants at home, passed on June 3, 2024.

The bill fulfills a commitment Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew made prior to forming government in late 2023 when the Manitoba NDP defeated the previous Progressive Conservative government. The ban on growing cannabis at home had been put in place by the Progressive Conservatives.

Although the Bill was delayed for several weeks, along with other legislation, due to delay tactics by the opposition, the proposed legislation received little pushback from the opposition, save for the newly-elected MLA for Brandon West Wayne Balcaen. Balcaen raised concerns at second reading in the house and when the bill was discussed in the Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development. 

In the Committee, Balcaen referenced his experience as the former Chief of Police in Brandon, Manitoba, in his concerns with the bill, saying he had seen many homes with extensive damage from indoor cannabis operations. 

The MLA also said he had concerns with children eating cannabis off of a plant, that it will lead to less tax revenue for the province because they will be growing their own, that it will lead to the legalization of other drugs, and that it will “open the doors to organized crime.”

“This legislation will be a segway for organized crime into very lucrative black market sales and I believe that this will open up the doors for organized crime to find ways into this business and certainly gain further financial gains within our province,” he stated for the record in committee. 

Balcaen expressed similar concerns when the bill was debated at second reading, asking, “who will monitor these grows, and who will monitor the sale of the seeds to produce these cannabis products?”

PC MLA Jeff Wharton (Red River North) had similar concerns: “Can the mem­ber explain how the bill–or how we can ensure that the cannabis grown in a private residence will not be blended potentially with dangerous ad­di­tional sub­stances that could hurt not only the user but the children in the home?”

Despite these concerns, the Bill passed with no amendments in committee on May 27 and passed concurrence and third reading on June 3, 2024.

The group challenging Manitoba’s ban on growing cannabis at home filed an appeal earlier this year against a court decision to uphold the ban. That group, TobaGrown, has now suspended their lawsuit following the government’s move to repeal the home grow ban.

“TobaGrown is pleased to observe the progress of this Bill and values the ongoing positive communication we’re having with the Manitoba Government,” says Jesse Lavoie who has led the charge against the ban through his organization, TobaGrown. “We have formally suspended our lawsuit against the Province and will fully withdraw it upon the enactment of the new legislation.”

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