Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2017
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Sarnia Observer
Author: Neil Bowen
Page: A2


Sorting out whether possession of medical marijuana can become a crime
remains in the hands of a Sarnia judge after a brief court appearance

Justice Mark Hornblower said there is a unique point of law he must be
satisfied with before accepting a man's guilty pleas to marijuana
possession. The issue is whether involvement of the medical marijuana
in another crime makes the possession a crime.

After short submissions by Crown and defence lawyer, Hornblower
adjourned his decision to Oct. 18.

It is believed the decision will be a first in Canada.

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

Barr had a prescription for marijuana to deal with an anxiety
condition. Barr's prescription allowed him to use between 1.5 and
three grams daily.

In August, Barr was convicted and fined $1,000 for impaired driving,
leaving the marijuana charge.

Federal prosecutor Michael Robb said Monday that Barr, as a medical
marijuana user, was required to follow regulations including carrying
it in a bag labelled by the provider with a statement of the drug's

Eighteen grams of marijuana were found in an unlabelled bag after
Barr's vehicle was stopped. Therefore, Barr was not permitted to have
it in his possession, Robb said.

Evidence of the bag's labelling was not before the court at the time
of Barr's plea and should not be considered by the court, said defence
lawyer David Burns.

At the time of Barr's plea, Hornblower raised the issue of whether the
plea was appropriate in light of the prescription.

The judge said his Oct. 18 decision will focus on that

If Hornblower accepts the plea, Barr's sentencing will be the next
consideration. If Hornblower rejects the plea, the case may have to be
decided by another judge.

The federal Liberal government has pledged to legalize possession of
small amounts of marijuana for personal use by July 2018.
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