Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jun 2015
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Susan McIver
Page: A1
Referenced: R. v. Smith


Family of Summerland toddler 'thrilled' with Supreme Court decision
that makes treating her with cannabis oil legal

Overjoyed only begins to describe the reaction of Kyla Williams's
family to the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling that expands the
definition of medical marijuana to include extracts and

The quality of life of the three-year-old Summerland girl diagnosed
with intractable seizure disorder has dramatically improved since she
began treatment with cannabis oil early last year.

On Thursday, the high court ruled that medical marijuana patients can
use cannabis-infused cookies, tea and oils without breaking the law.

"I burst into tears when I heard the news," said Kyla's grandmother
Elaine Nuessler. "I then called Courtney (Kyla's mother) and we both

"I can't say how thrilled we are," said Courtney.

Parents Courtney and Jared Williams and the other family members have
been on a roller-coaster ride since Kyla was diagnosed two years ago.

A year later, doctors said they had exhausted all treatment

In desperation, the family turned to the illegal oil.

"It's nice not to feel like a criminal and be looking over your
shoulder all the time," said grandfather Chris Nuessler, a retired
RCMP officer.

Before Thursday's ruling, only dried forms of marijuana were legal,
which meant patients had to smoke the drug that is proving to be
beneficial for a wide range of conditions, including epilepsy.

"How could little Kyla, who was suffering hundreds of seizures a day,
smoke pot?" Elaine asked.

Elaine has become the go-to person for information and emotional
support for many families across the country with children suffering
from epilepsy.

Chris and Elaine have been instrumental in raising money to help
families pay for the oil.

The court's decision opens the doors to much-needed research on
medical cannabis in Canada. "The prohibition of non-dried forms of
medical marijuana limits liberty and security of the person in a
manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the
principles of fundamental justice," said the written judgement.

The initial trial judge in Smith's case gave the federal government a
year to change the laws around cannabis extracts, but the top court
said its ruling takes effect immediately.

Cheryl Rose, whose daughter Hayley takes cannabis for a severe form of
epilepsy, was overjoyed by the decision and said her 22- year-old's
seizures have dropped dramatically.

Under the old law, Hayley was ingesting 15 capsules of dried cannabis
daily. Now, she will only have to swallow one concentrated capsule
made with oil.

Limiting medical marijuana use to dried pot "limits life, liberty and
security of the person" in two ways, the court said.

First, the prohibition on possession of cannabis in forms other than
dried pot places a person at risk of imprisonment; they wouldn't face
the same threat if they possessed dried marijuana buds.

It also exposes people with a legitimate need for marijuana to other
potential medical ailments, it stated.

"It subjects the person to the risk of cancer and bronchial infections
associated with smoking dry marijuana and precludes the possibility of
choosing a more effective treatment."

The decision was the latest in a series of rulings by the high court
against the Harper government on a variety of issues, including
unanimously rejecting the ban on providing doctor-assisted death to
mentally competent patients.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose said she was "outraged" by the marijuana

"The big issue here is the message about normalization," she said.
"The message that judges, not medical experts, judges have decided
something is a medicine."

Ambrose noted that marijuana has never faced a regulatory approval
process through Heath Canada.

"This is not a drug," she said. "This is not a medicine. There's very
harmful effects of marijuana, especially on our youth."
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