Ninety-five years after cannabis was made illegal, the federal government legalized it in October 2018 by creating the Cannabis Act (Canada). This act and regulations established the national framework for the production and distribution of cannabis and cannabis products, and allows the provinces and territories to make rules allowing for the legal sale of cannabis.
And so, on October 17, 2018, Manitoba’s Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act and regulations were proclaimed, the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority was established and six licensed retail cannabis stores, including online sales, began operating in Manitoba.
Manitoba’s key goals
Long before federal or provincial legislation were proposed, the Manitoba government set these key policy goals:
- Keeping cannabis out of the hands of young persons.
- Eliminating the illegal cannabis market.
- Creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
- Promoting social responsibility and public education.
These goals guided the work for developing and implementing legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives when creating Manitoba’s retail network and for balancing public and consumer safety risks related to the use of this new legal consumer product. These are still early days, and the market, consumer choice, expectations, knowledge about effects, risks and many other factors will continue to evolve; so will information on this website.
Manitoba’s Public/Private Retail Store Model
Manitoba’s retail model is based on public sector regulation provided by the LGCA, and wholesale and distribution provided by the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation with private businesses operating the cannabis retail network. This model has resulted in a balanced risk-based licensing and compliance approach which oversees sales and service. This model also allows Manitoba to economically purchase and distribute cannabis to retailers through the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation as the sole wholesaler and distributor.
The role of the LGCA
The LGCA is responsible for:
- Regulating businesses that sell and distribute cannabis.
- Providing information and advice to the minister about activities involving cannabis.
- Encouraging responsible consumption of cannabis.
- Gathering public input on matters related to cannabis.
- Conducting research on matters related to cannabis.
For more information, click here to view The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act and related regulations.
Who is eligible for a cannabis retail licence?
Criteria includes a business agreement with the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, a suitability assessment to ensure the honesty and integrity of the retail ownership, compliance with security and sales operations requirements, and ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements.
How does the LGCA regulate the cannabis retail stores?
Once a licence is issued, LGCA inspectors conduct regular inspections and inventory/financial audits to make sure stores are following the licensing requirements. Because this process is still so new, the LGCA has classified all cannabis licensees as high-risk and prioritized bi-weekly inspections and monthly audit reporting. LGCA auditors have provided training and guidance to licensees to support monthly inventory reporting. Overall, there have been few regulatory challenges, with a 98% regulatory compliance rate during the first year of legalization, with any problems addressed through education and training.
Prior to beginning work, all cannabis retail staff must be certified in the LGCA’s Smart Choices Cannabis Retail Certification social responsibility program. This mandatory training has helped staff in licensed cannabis stores provide consistent information to consumers, and helped this new industry become comfortable with the regulatory requirements while building relationships with the LGCA.
The LGCA also is responsible for educating Manitobans about how to lower their risks if they choose to use cannabis. To date, the LGCA has released three campaigns, providing information about cannabis laws, lower-risk use guidelines and safety information aimed at reducing the potential for consumer and public harms, and clarifying the laws for using cannabis in Manitoba.
Buying cannabis in Manitoba
Within the first year, 27 stores began operating in Manitoba, providing access to nearly 90% of Manitoba’s population within a 30 minute drive of their home.
Click here for a list of licensed cannabis retail stores in Manitoba.