Pubdate: Mon, 31 Jul 2000
Source: Associated Press
Copyright: 2000 Associated Press
Note: Title by newshawk

POT PROHIBITION UNCONSTITUTIONAL, RULES COURT OF APPEALS

TORONTO (AP)  Ontario's highest court has declared the law prohibiting the
possession of marijuana unconstitutional and has given Ottawa one year to
amend it.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Monday that Canada's marijuana law fails
to recognize that people who suffer from chronic illnesses can use pot as
medicine.

As a result, the court ruled that if Ottawa does not clarify the law within
12 months the law prohibiting marijuana possession in Ontario will be struck
down, which could lead to similar challenges across the country.

In the meantime however, possession of marijuana in Canada is still illegal,
and the law remains in full force and effect.

The ruling was part of a decision which upheld a lower court judge's
decision that has allowed an epileptic Toronto man to smoke pot for the past
three years.

Terry Parker, 44, said marijuana has virtually eliminated the 15 to 80
weekly seizures he suffered for about 40 years as a symptom of his illness.

``The decision will open doors across the country for sick Canadians who
need pot to help alleviate symptoms such as nausea and vomiting,'' said
Parker's lawyer, Aaron Harnett.

Under Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, it is illegal to possess
and cultivate marijuana. People who need it for medicinal purposes can apply
for exemptions.

The court is asking that the exemption be written into the law, to prevent
unnecessary charges against sick people, said Harnett.
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