Pubdate: Fri, 20 Mar 2015
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2015 The StarPhoenix
Author: Ian MacLeod
Page: C11


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 medicalmarijuana 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. 
Smith was acquitted of the drug offences. The Crown appealed and 
lost. The majority decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled the 
government had no basis to assert that transforming dried marijuana 
into tea or baking oil put individuals at greater risk. It gave the 
government until August to draft new regulations to allow medicinal 
marijuana users to use products made from cannabis extract, such as 
creams, oils and brownies.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is now asking the Supreme 
Court to strike down that judgment. It also contends that since Smith 
is not a medical marijuana user, he should have no standing to 
challenge the constitutional validity of the regulation.

The prosecution service declined to comment for this story. 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.
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