Pubdate: Fri, 20 Mar 2015
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network
Author: Ian MacLeod
Page: A19


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. 
Smith was acquitted of the drug offences. The Crown appealed and 
lost. The majority decision of the British Columbia 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, rendered last August. 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.
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