Lack of Enforcement Efforts
The Liberals say they will crack down on illicit-market cannabis sales and the sale of illegal drugs online. In their platform, the Party writes, “Legal Manitoba-based cannabis stores have struggled to compete because there has been no enforcement against illicit sales, either online or with brick-and-mortar stores. While illicit tobacco sales are being investigated and prosecuted by the province, cannabis sales are not.”
The Party says it will strengthen the legislative authority of the Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba to ensure they are inspecting and prosecuting illicit sales of cannabis to protect the legal market.
Other Parties’ Platforms
The Manitoba Liberals are not expected to form government in the upcoming election. The Progressive Conservatives and NDP are currently polling within a few points of each other.
The NDP has not specifically mentioned the illicit cannabis market but pledged to crack down on drug traffickers with an Unexplained Wealth Act. The Manitoba Green Party proposes to legalize growing cannabis at home.
Province Returns $18 Million to Retailers
Earlier this year, the Manitoba Conservative Government passed Bill 10 repealing the 6% Social Responsibility Fee (SRF) on gross retail cannabis. This was reportedly in part due to pressure from the NDP.
The Bill eliminates the SRF owing from retailers retroactive to January 1, 2022. This will return approximately $18 million in fees paid by legal cannabis retailers over the past two years while ensuring that at least an additional $11 million stays with retailers moving forward on an annualized basis.
The SRF was originally introduced in 2018 to fund the social costs of public education, safety, and health for cannabis and eliminate the Manitoba PST charge.