HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Marijuana
Pubdate: Wed,  2 Aug 2000
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: The Windsor Star 2000


The medicinal factor

One of the most powerful courts in the country has given the federal
government an order not even the Liberals can ignore: Update the nation's
marijuana laws, Ottawa has been told, or by this time next year possession
of the drug will automatically become legal for all.

Justice Marc Rosenberg of the Ontario Court of Appeal was ruling on the
narrow case of Terry Parker, who suffers severe epilepsy. The Toronto man
has found that smoking weed eases the worst of his symptoms.

Years of treatment and surgery failed to control his dangerous seizures, but
smoking up to a half dozen joints per day of his homegrown bud ended them

Last year, Health Minister Allan Rock announced that people like Parker who
can prove a medical need for marijuana should apply to him for an exemption
from the law. But in a refreshingly just ruling that puts citizens' needs
before those of government, Rosenberg has ruled that Rock's requirements are
unreasonable, unrealistic and unconstitutional.

The federal government has no right to deny or delay Parker's access to
needed health care, Rosenberg wrote. Doing so "is not consistent with the
principal of fundamental justice."

Rock's requirements also trample on his constitutional rights, he ruled.
"Forcing Parker to choose between his health and imprisonment violates his
right to liberty and security of the person."

Rosenberg's ruling ends the blanket prohibition against the possession of
marijuana. If the Liberals don't move quickly, Canada will become the
Netherlands of the Americas, with police powerless to interfere in the
personal use of the drug.

Howard Hampton, the Ontario NDP leader, has already gone Rosenberg one step
better by calling for its complete decriminalization. Hampton says it makes
no sense to turn people into criminals for "smoking a little pot."

But legalization is an argument for another time, the current issue is about
the drug's potential to help seriously ill individuals -- including those
with AIDS, cancers, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.

In the short term, it is clear the Liberals must quell their urge to
micromanage people's lives and control access to health services. Rock must
stop playing gatekeeper and legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.

Either that, or Terry Parker becomes the instant patron saint of high
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