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This article was published 29/12/2016 (968 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A recent Probe Research poll suggests nearly one-quarter of Manitoba adults would try marijuana at least once if it becomes legal.
But one local MLA says a lot more research is needed before it gets to that point.
"To me, there’s just so much that needs to be looked at yet," said Brandon East Progressive Conservative MLA Len Isleifson. "But it certainly needs to be regulated somehow and strictly enforced."
Isleifson encourages Brandon East constituents to contact him with any feedback they might have, as debates on the issue begin in earnest.
"So when we get to the point where we need to discuss what Manitoba is going to do, then it would be nice to have feedback from our constituents," he said.
The Probe/Winnipeg Free Press survey asked, "If marijuana becomes legal in Canada, how likely would you be to use it even just once?" Twenty-four per cent said they would likely use it. The most likely user group would be men between 18 and 34 (37 per cent), renters (38 per cent) and those with some post-secondary education (32 per cent.)
The provincewide survey was conducted via telephone between Nov. 29 and Dec. 11 among a random and representative sampling of 1,000 Manitoba adults. Modified random digit dialing covered both landline and wireless numbers.
Isleifson said at 1,000 respondents, it was a small sample and pointed out a majority of Manitobans (75 per cent) said they were unlikely to try marijuana.
"I still think the majority of people are not inclined — whether it’s legal or not — to use marijuana," he said. "It gets even smaller as people get older."
More men (28 per cent) than women (20 per cent) would use it, while more Winnipeg residents would try it (28 per cent) than rural Manitobans (19 per cent). Those over the age of 55 were least likely to try marijuana (15 per cent).
A quarter of respondents earning less than $30,000 a year said they would try it once, while 27 per cent of those who make more than $100,000 said they would use it. Liberal voters were most likely to use pot (32 per cent), while NDP voters came in at 26 per cent and PC supporters at 19 per cent.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government plans to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis this spring, which has the provincial government working to get prepared.
"We’re looking at what the federal government released just a couple weeks ago, so it’s fairly new," said Brandon West PC MLA Reg Helwer. "They had some guidelines and not a lot of reasoning for it. We are looking for what works best for Manitoba, both in terms of sale and enforcement."
Helwer said he’s not surprised by the Probe results. What is concerning to Helwer is the fact there are no protocols in place yet for drug driving.
"I think we need to have a good plan going forward with that," he said.
The results of the Probe survey show that 87 per cent of respondents have not used marijuana in the last year, while 13 per cent admitted to using.
Meanwhile, Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire has an online poll at larrymaguire.ca/weed, asking constituents if marijuana should be legalized.
"So far we’ve received a tremendous amount of responses and I hope people can take a few minutes to fill out the survey and let me know where they stand. It is imperative that the voice of Westman is heard in Parliament," Maguire said.
Maguire said legalization of marijuana would not make his Top 100 list of important public policy matters facing Westman.
"My efforts have been on securing funding for critical infrastructure, improving the quality of life of Westman families and seniors and creating the right business environment for private sector growth in our economy," Maguire said.
"Saying that, the Liberals are moving forward on this issue, so as parliamentarians we must deal with the matter at hand. If the Liberals are going to legalize marijuana, they better make sure they get it right and don't cause more harm than good."
Maguire said the issue is far more complicated than meets the eye, and there are still many questions, including: Where should it be sold? Who sets the price? Who sets the THC level? Who will be able to purchase it? Can the police be able to easily determine who is under the influence? Should the provinces and municipal governments have final say on regulations? What tax regime will be put in place? Should individuals be allowed to grow their own plants for recreational use? Should advertising be allowed? Should edibles be allowed?
"There are various opinions on those questions and lots of folks don’t want to see it legalized at all. Many people would like it to first be decriminalized rather than full legalization at the outset," Maguire said.
» email@example.com, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press and Erin Debooy
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