Pubdate: Wed, 06 May 2015
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Ian Austin


A medical-marijuana user who believes he has the right to puff weed in
the designated smoking area of his local legion can have his case
heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

But tribunal chairman Bernd Walter first wants Jonathan Starnes and
the Royal Canadian Legion's Parksville branch to try to resolve their

"I recommend the parties engage in assertive efforts to resolve this
complaint without resorting to a protracted evidentiary hearing,"
Walter wrote in a decision to let the tribunal hear the complaint.
"The tribunal is prepared to assist in such efforts."

Walter wrote that Starnes, who says he uses marijuana for chronic
pain, believes he has the right to smoke his doctor-prescribed pot in
the designated (tobacco) smoking section of the Parksville legion, and
"that he is entitled to smoke it in all provincially regulated smoking
areas, as he was doing on July 1, 2014."

The legion disagrees. It promptly ejected him from the premises and
suspended his membership - triggering his complaint to the human
rights panel.

Walter said many of the crucial facts are disputed.

The two sides can't even agree on Starnes' status at the legion; the
legion maintains he was suspended for six months, while Starnes says
he faces a permanent ban.

"Based on the submissions of the parties, I find that there are a
number of issues which are starkly in dispute and which require
determination," Walter wrote in ruling against the legion's attempt to
dismiss the complaint.

"In order to succeed in his complaint at a hearing, Mr. Starnes would
have to establish on evidence that he has a disability, that he was
treated adversely and that his disability was, or (it) is reasonable
to infer that it was, a factor in the adverse treatment."
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