HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Ontario Court Strikes Down Ottawa's Medical-Marijuana
Pubdate: Thu, 09 Jan 2003
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: James McCarten, Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


TORONTO (CP) - A group of seriously ill people has won the first battle in 
an ongoing war with Ottawa over a scheme to permit the use of medical 
marijuana the patients say violates their constitutional rights.

An Ontario judge agreed Thursday that the federal government's Medical 
Marijuana Access Regulations are unconstitutional because they prevent more 
deserving people from exemption than they permit. The ruling from Ontario's 
Superior Court is binding on lower courts, subject to an appeal, and will 
likely wreak further havoc on the laws in Canada that make possession of 
marijuana illegal, said lawyer Alan Young.

"We sued the government, saying their regulatory regime for medical people 
was unsound," said lawyer Alan Young. "The judge agreed, saying they have 
six months to address it or they lose the law."

The regulations give eligible people an exemption from provisions of the 
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the law which makes possession of pot 
illegal for everyone else.

Unless Ottawa appeals the ruling or comes up with a new medical-marijuana 
regime within six months, that law will fall, Young said.

"The law will be dead in Ontario," he said. "There will be no further 
questions about that."

Young argued in court last year that the regulations demand medical 
declarations that few doctors are willing to provide given the legal 

They also make it impossible for a doctor to recommend a dosage, since the 
drug remains unregulated in Canada.

Even those who do win a legal exemption - more than 300 people in Canada 
are currently permitted by Ottawa to smoke pot for medical reasons - are 
forced to break the law, resorting to black-market weed because the 
government is dragging its heels on efforts to cultivate a pure supply for 
clinical trial.

There were seven marijuana consumers included in Young's group of 
applicants, along with a caregiver, the Toronto Compassion Centre. Three 
other applicants are also participating in the hearings.

There was no immediate word Thursday on whether the ruling forces the 
government to make available the marijuana it grew in a Manitoba mineshaft 
under a $5.7-million contract for clinical trials.

Federal Health Minister Anne McLellan had refused to allow the marijuana to 
be distributed because she says it simply isn't pure enough.
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