Justice minister disturbed by sight of young pot-smokers at 420, worried for future of pot laws

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Justice minister disturbed by sight of young pot-smokers at 420, worried for future of pot laws

Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said she was disturbed by the number of young people celebrating 420 on the legislature's lawn on Thursday, and recently tabled Liberal marijuana legalization legislation doesn't do much to assuage her concerns.

"I think that I'm very concerned about the lack of education components within the [legalization] legislation," Stefanson told reporters on Thursday. "There's been a number of … more questions that have arisen as a result of the tabling of the legislation than we have answers for right now, and many of those things are going to be addressed by way of regulation. We haven't seen the regulations yet."

"I do have significant concerns about this getting into the hands of more young people."

The federal plan would legalize and regulate the the recreational use, sale and cultivation of marijuana and comes with new measures to crack down on impaired driving.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said part of the goal of legalization is to restrict access of marijuana to minors — but Stefanson said she has her doubts about its success on that front.

"I have real concerns about this, the whole thing when it comes to young people, and that's why we came out with the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act is to try and help reduce that risk to young people," she said.

The Cannabis Harm Prevention Act would ban people from consuming marijuana in a vehicle and give police the right to suspend a driver's licence for 24 hours if they thought the person was under the influence of the drug.

Stefanson said she didn't have a chance to go speak to the dozens of people smoking marijuana outside the legislature on Thursday, but she wasn't impressed by the glimpse she got.

"I peeked out my window. You know what, I saw that there was a lot of young people out there. But I've been in meetings most of the day and question period, I'll be back in the house this afternoon." she said. "But it does disturb me how many young people were out there today."