Pubdate: Fri, 15 Aug 2014
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2014 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Tamsyn Burgmann
Page: A16
Cited: R. v. Smith:


Top B.C. court allows non-smoked forms

VANCOUVER - British Columbia's highest court is green-lighting medical
marijuana in everything from oils and cookies to teas in a ruling that
finds federal health laws limiting weed consumption to the dried
variety are unconstitutional.

The B.C. Appeal Court released its 2-1 decision on Thursday stating
medical-marijuana-access regulations infringe on the charter rights of
people requiring other forms of cannabis to treat illnesses.

The ruling upheld a decision by a lower-court judge over the case of
Owen Smith, a Victoria man who was charged in 2009 with possession for
trafficking of THC - marijuana's active compound - while working as
head baker for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada.

Smith challenged the law by arguing some patients want to consume
their marijuana medicine in butters, brownies, cookies and teas,
claiming the right to administer the drug in other forms is

His lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who also represents other medical
marijuana-related litigants, said his client is pleased the court will
allow patients to decide what mode of ingestion works best for their
particular symptoms and conditions.

"How many people out there really think that a critically and
chronically ill member of their family shouldn't be entitled to eat a
medical-marijuana cookie if that relieves their pain?" Tousaw said in
an interview.

"We're talking about the right of patients to find some relief from
their very serious symptoms and conditions. It's about time our
government stop wasting our money trying to prevent people from doing

The Appeal Court ruled its judgment may be suspended for one year in
order to allow Parliament time to amend the regulations to ensure they
are constitutional.

The Crown appealed the decision from the B.C. Supreme Court where the
judge there ordered the word "dried" and the definition of "dried
marijuana" to be deleted from the regulations.

The Appeal Court judges agreed with the lower-court judge in amending
the legislation, saying that was a job for Parliament.

Both Smith and the Crown have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court
of Canada, but neither has yet decided whether to do so.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose was not available for an interview. The
ministry said it was reviewing the decision and considering its options.

Tousaw said he's hoping the ruling prompts the federal government to
reevaluate its policies. But he noted a potential obstacle will be the
fact the decision centres on a regulation scheme that no longer
exists, rather than its new, commercial revision.

Scores of lawsuits have been filed challenging the federal
government's attempted overhaul of the system that took effect in
April and limits marijuana production to licensed commercial growers.

While more than 200 lawsuits filed via an online legal kit have been
put on hold, an ongoing Federal Court case is expected to be heard in
February of next year.

The judge had issued an injunction allowing many patients to
temporarily grow pot at home.

This latest ruling may bolster the other cases, Tousaw

Smith, who did not have a medical marijuana card, was arrested while
in the process of cooking up pot medicine. His lawyer said he had
expertise in turning dried marijuana into salves, oils and baked
goods, knowing the precise amounts of the drug to use and the best
process for making "effective and safe" products.
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