Pubdate: Fri, 20 Mar 2015
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2015 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Ian MacLeod
Page: A14


Current law says herb can only be smoked

OTTAWA - Canada's high court is contemplating whether it's a
constitutional right to munch cookies, brownies and oils laced with
medical marijuana.

Federal regulations restrict authorized users of physician-prescribed
cannabis to consuming only dried marijuana plants.

Brewing pot in tea, baking it into a brownie or any form of
consumption other than smoking the dried plant buds can trigger
criminal trafficking and narcotics possession charges under the
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The question Friday before the Supreme Court of Canada, in its first
foray into the medical marijuana debate, is whether the Health Canada
regulation violated medical marijuana users' constitutional right to
life, liberty and safety.

That's what Owen Smith contends. Police in 2009 found more than 200
pot cookies and cannabis-infused olive oil and grapeseed oil in his
Victoria apartment. The former head baker for the Cannabis Buyers Club
of Canada was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking
and unlawful possession of marijuana.

At Smith's 2012 trial, lawyer Kirk Tousaw argued the restrictive
regulation was unconstitutional and arbitrary, and did not further the
government's interest in protecting public health and safety.

Instead, it forces the critically and chronically ill to smoke medical
marijuana, which is potentially harmful, he said.

Even though Smith is not a medical marijuana user, a judge agreed and
found that criminalizing a patient's choice of smoking or eating his
or her medication is an unwarranted infringement of security of the
person rights guaranteed under Section 7 of the charter. Smith was
acquitted. The majority decision of the British Columbia Court of
Appeal ruled the government had no basis to assert transforming dried
marijuana into tea or baking oil put individuals at greater risk.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is now asking the Supreme
Court to strike down that judgment.

The prosecution service declined to comment for this

The government does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts
have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana when
authorized by a physician.

There's concern, too, of pot-laced cookies and other illicit treats
being diverted to the black market, and of the difficulties police
would encounter trying to determine whether a batch of cookies or
brownies contained more dope than the patient was authorized to possess.