Yes, you can carry up to 30 grams of pot in Manitoba — but leave it at home if you're going to court
Getting caught green-handed in court used to get you arrested. Now, security just seizes your weed
It's your first time in court, you're running late and it's a stressful day — you've come to support a loved one on the day they're to be sentenced for a crime.
As you walk up to the metal detectors inside the Winnipeg law courts, a stern sheriff asks you to remove all metals from your person.
You nervously grab what's in your pockets and blindly dump the contents into the transparent plastic container.
That's when the sheriff locks eyes with you and pulls a Ziploc bag containing two joints from the mess of pocket lint and balled up tissues in the bin. In the heat of the moment, you forgot to leave your weed at home.
Prior to legalization on Oct. 17, people caught green-handed in such scenarios by Manitoba court security have been arrested or charged for possession "on a case by case basis," according to a Manitoba Justice official.
As of Wednesday, it's a different story.
"Now that it is legal, individuals will be advised that it is not allowed in the building," the official said in an emailed statement.
"They will have to store it elsewhere prior to entry or it will be seized, which is the same approach we use with alcohol."
Added to 'prohibited items' list
The department anticipated the coming legalization of cannabis and revised The Court Security Act in the most recent update to the provincial legislation on Aug. 31.
Manitobans, like other Canadians, can now legally carry up to 30 grams of cannabis with them.
But The Court Security Act allows Manitoba's courts to define "prohibited items" which are not allowed in court.
Under the latest changes, cannabis now joins alcohol, any substance covered under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of Canada, and "any item used to ingest" drugs on that prohibited list.
Security can deny someone entry if they refuse to undergo a search or pass through the metal detector, according to the legislation.
You can still be charged or fined up to $5,000 if you're caught in court with any one of the items on the prohibited list — though the first approach will be to ask people to store their cannabis elsewhere or turn it over to them as they head into court.
Manitoba Justice hasn't tracked statistics on cannabis, alcohol, other drugs or related charges, though the spokesperson says anecdotally, sheriffs seize liquor two or three times per month.
"When it comes to cannabis and other drugs, we seize paraphernalia more often than the drugs themselves," the spokesperson said.
Were you arrested, charged or fined for bringing cannabis or cannabis devices into court? Or know someone who was? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.