Provincial bans on public pot use may not cover homemade edibles in some cases

WINNIPEG — Canadians won’t be able to smoke or vape marijuana in most public places even after the federal government legalizes recreational use of the drug later this year.

But, depending on where they live, they may be able to eat to their heart’s content.

Manitoba is one province that has an edible cannabis loophole big enough to drive a truck filled with brownies through.

The Progressive Conservative government has just passed a law banning consumption of cannabis in virtually any public place — streets, parks, campsites and more — but the law is worded to only ban smoking or vaping. It does not cover homemade edibles.

The government appeared to be caught off-guard by the issue when contacted Monday by The Canadian Press. Two days later, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen’s office responded with a brief statement that said the minister was unavailable for an interview but the matter would be examined shortly.

“We expect Minister Goertzen and health ministers from across the country will seek clarity on the federal government’s plans for edibles when they meet in Winnipeg later this month,” the statement read.

The federal government has made it clear that sales of edible cannabis products such as cookies or brownies will not be legal immediately. But people will be allowed to bake and eat their own.

As soon as recreational use is legalized, people will be allowed to “alter cannabis at home in order to prepare varying types of cannabis products — e.g. edibles — for personal use,” a Health Canada online guide states.

The Ontario government appears to have covered all the bases. Its cannabis law forbids all forms of cannabis consumption in public places. The British Columbia government specifically prevents smoking and vaping in some areas such as workplaces, playgrounds and bus stops.

Like Manitoba, B.C. has specified three areas where any form of cannabis consumption is forbidden — schools, vehicles and boats.

The New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island governments said Wednesday they will ban all forms of cannabis consumption in public.

Karl Gowenlock, a criminal defence lawyer in Winnipeg, said Manitoba’s law means parks, streets and other areas are fair game for people who want to eat goods that contain marijuana.

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