Pubdate: Tue, 03 Feb 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Ian Mulgrew
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Federal Laws Governing Supply Are Ruled Unconstitutional

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has endorsed a recent federal court
decision saying the national marijuana program is unconstitutional.

Justice Marvyn Koenigsberg gave Ottawa a year to fix the
medical-marijuana access regulations so compassion clubs or producers
can get together and run a common marijuana-growing operation.

At the moment, the federal government restricts any licensed grower to
supplying only one licensed user and prohibits more than three growers
from pooling resources.

Both those restrictions are unconstitutional, Koenigsberg

Although she ruled the regulations are constitutionally wanting, she
also found Mathew Beren of Victoria guilty of illegally trafficking
and producing marijuana. But she gave him an absolute discharge.

A 35-year-old hydroponic-store owner, Beren was charged in 2004
following a raid on a research facility operated by the Vancouver
Island Compassion Society.

His lawyers argued he should not be convicted because he was providing
a needed service, as the marijuana regulations erected an unreasonable
barrier to patients' access to needed medication.

Justice Koenigsberg agreed, but said Beren had been selling to some
people who were not authorized under the program to possess pot.

And no matter how compassionate his motives, the rule of law must be

"In all my years on the bench," the veteran jurist added, "if there
were ever a case for an absolute discharge, it's this one."

The courtroom, packed with Beren's supporters and local pot activists,
exploded in applause.

The federal court of appeal issued a judgment in October stating the
marijuana-access regulations didn't pass constitutional muster for
similar reasons, and that case is being appealed by Ottawa to the
Supreme Court of Canada.

Prosecutor Peter Eccles said afterwards he had no comment.

Beren, his voice cracking, said he was happy the five-year ordeal was

"I was facing 14 years or more in jail, of course I'm relieved," he
told reporters.

He said he knew the risks, but couldn't stand to see sick people
suffer because they couldn't get their medicine.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin