Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jun 2015
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The London Free Press
Author: Hank Daniszewski and Kristy Brownlee
Page: A1
Referenced: (R. v. Smith):


Munch away, medical pot users. The Supreme Court of Canada says you
can now consume edible forms of the drug, such as pot brownies,
cookies, infused cooking oils and teas, not just dried marijuana leaf
to smoke.

Thursday's decision came a day after London's first specialized
cannabis clinic opened.

The high court's ruling could open medical marijuana to a wider group
of users who don't want to smoke or use a vaporizer to inhale the
narcotic, said Ronan Levy, a lawyer and director of Canadian Cannabis
Clinics, whose London operation opened this week.

Levy said the ruling on its own won't affect licensed medical
marijuana production or prescriptions. Until federal regulations
change, he said those businesses will only be allowed to supply dried

"It's still a do-it-yourself enterprise. But it allows people the
flexibility to use the medicine as they see fit," he said. "They may
fear going out in public to smoke or use a vaporizer. Now, they can
consume it in ways that may be more discreet." Federal law had limited
licensed users to dried marijuana. Any other form could have led to
criminal charges. Owen Smith was charged with pot possession and
trafficking while he was head of the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada at
his Victoria apartment in 2009. Police seized cannabis cookies and
jars of massage oil and lip balm laced with THC, the chemical that
gives pot its psychoactive effects. A B.C. judge acquitted Smith and
the B.C. Court of Appeal also ruled in his favour, giving the federal
government a year to change the law.

Smith argued the law violated the Charter of Rights and was
unconstitutional for limiting the lawful possession of medical
marijuana to just the dried variety.

The top court agreed. The decision, released Thursday, says the
prohibition to dried forms "limits liberty and security" as defined in
the Charter. "The evidence amply supports the trial judge's
conclusions that inhaling marijuana can present health risks and that
it is less effective for some conditions than administration of
cannabis derivatives," the decision says.

Any quick change to federal regulations looks unlikely after Health
Minister Rona Ambrose said she's "outraged" by the ruling. Ambrose
said the judges have called marijuana a medicine, while Health Canada
hasn't approved it.

"There's only one authority in Canada that has the authority and
expertise to make a drug into a medicine and that's Health Canada,"
Ambrose said. She made the comments after she announced more oversight
for Canadian medical marijuana providers. They must now send quarterly
patient prescription information reports to provincial and territorial
licensing bodies to prevent misuse. Toronto-based Canadian Cannabis
Clinics, on Wharncliffe Rd., is the only facility in London solely
focused on assessing patients and writing medical marijuana
prescriptions, allowing patients to order from a federal website or
licensed producers. A cannabis clinic that opened on Dundas St. E.
last year closed quickly and abruptly. Levy said the new London clinic
will get most of its referrals from family doctors and is holding an
information seminar in the city this week for medical professionals.
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