Justice minister disturbed by young smokers

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Justice Minister Heather Stefanson looked out her legislature building window Thursday with dismay at how many young people were on the lawn smoking up.

“It does disturb me how many young people were out there today,” Stefanson told reporters.

She didn’t go outside and she kept her window closed, Stefanson said with a smile.

But Stefanson was all seriousness when she reiterated her fears that federal legislation shows no signs of educating young people about the dangers of marijuana, especially of driving after using pot.

“I’m very concerned about the lack of education provisions,” she said. “I’m very concerned about this getting into the hands of more young people.

“Our focus will always be on the health and safety of our young people,” said Stefanson, who urged young Manitobans heed the message: “Don’t drive high.”

The justice minister acknowledged Thursday’s 4/20 event is still illegal and emphasized she doesn’t condone marijuana consumption in public.

Last month, Stefanson tabled the Cannabis Harm Reduction Act, which would ban smoking pot in a public space or indoor workplace and make it illegal to consume marijuana inside a vehicle travelling on a street or road.

It would allow for 24-hour licence suspensions if a police officer believes a driver is under the influence of the drug and unable to operate a vehicle safely, and it would require pot be transported in a car’s trunk so it could not be available to anyone inside a car while it was being driven.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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