The Government of Manitoba is introducing new cannabis possession rules to help stop the illicit cannabis market that will come into effect as of January 1st.

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced that the new rules are aimed at preserving the integrity of the legal retail cannabis system and protect health and safety.

“Our government has made health and safety our top priority throughout the legalization process,” said Cullen. “These legislative changes about possession restrictions give provincial inspectors the ability to seize illicit cannabis, helping us crackdown on the illicit market without further increasing the burden on police officers.”

The changes to the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act will allow for provincial inspectors to issue tickets and make seizures of illegal pot, making Manitoba the first province to allow the enforcement.

The changes will also make it illegal to possess pot that is not packaged, stamped or labelled according to federal laws. Exemptions to the rule allow people to remove the pot from its original package for storage. The province says it is supporting the legal pot market by prohibiting the possession of illegal cannabis.

The new provincial offences give officials the option to follow through with a charge in a less formal way by issuing a ticket, instead of requiring a person to appear in Provincial Court to deal with a formal charge.

The fines for possessing more than 30 grams of non-medical cannabis and possessing improperly packaged pot will be $672.

In September of last year, the province established pre-set fines for other cannabis-related provincial offences including supplying pot to a person under 19, smoking and vaping in provincial parks, transporting improperly stored pot and failing drug-screening tests as part of the graduated driver licensing program.

As part of a larger response to the federal laws around non-medical cannabis, the province has also introduced legislation that would formalize a social responsibility fee for cannabis retailers, establish a hybrid retail model to support public safety and economic development, and launched an awareness campi9agn about the laws and risks associated with cannabis use.