Pubdate: Thu, 10 Aug 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Neil Bowen
Page: A1


Judge struggles with 'lawful prescription becoming unlawful due to its
use,' by driver under its influence

SARNIA - In what's believed to be a Canadian first, a judge here is
having to wrestle with whether having medicinal pot on you is illegal
if you're driving under its influence.

In a case heard Wednesday, federal drug prosecutor Michael Robb said
the issue hadn't come up before in the government's prosecution service.

Anthony Francis Barr, 27, of St. Clair Township near Sarnia, pleaded
guilty to driving while impaired by marijuana and to possessing marijuana.

Barr had a prescription for marijuana to deal with an anxiety

Barr was convicted and fined $1,000 for driving while impaired.

But while the impaired-by-pot charge wasn't in dispute, the drug
possession charge is more hazy.

"I am struggling with a lawful prescription becoming unlawful due to
its use," said Justice Mark Hornblower, who delayed his finding on the
possession charge until Sept. 25.

Robb said he had no case law supporting the contention that possession
of the marijuana became illegal because Barr was using it as he drove.

New federal marijuana legislation, for Ottawa's planned legalization
of recreational pot use starting a little less than a year from now,
considers the legality of marijuana in such circumstances just like
that of alcohol, said Robb.

Transporting sealed booze in a vehicle is legal, but having open
alcohol - and consuming it - as you drive, is not.

On April 12, Barr was driving on the St. Clair Parkway south of Sarnia
when he passed five vehicles while approaching a curve.

The driving was troubling due to the potential risk to other
motorists, said assistant Crown attorney Melanie Nancekievill.

Barr's vehicle was stopped by OPP officers who smelled fresh and
burned marijuana in the vehicle.

Barr told officers he'd smoked two bowls of marijuana after leaving
work 30 minutes before he was stopped.

A total of 18 grams of marijuana was found in the vehicle.

Barr's prescription allowed him to use between 1.5 and three grams

In entering his guilty plea, Barr had considered the Crown's position
that under the circumstances his possession was unlawful, said defence
lawyer David Burns.

"I don't see it with the clarity of the Public Prosecution Service ...
I need to satisfy myself," said Hornblower in adjourning the
marijuana possession charge.
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