HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Activists Hail Ruling
Pubdate: Thu, 15 Nov 2007
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Section: Pg A10
Copyright: 2007, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Dean Beeby, The Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Pot Activists Hail Ruling

OTTAWA -- Marijuana activists are hailing a recent court ruling as 
the beginning of the end of Canada's prohibition on pot, but the 
Crown dismisses the decision as non-binding.

A trial judge in Oshawa, Ont., threw out charges of simple possession 
of marijuana against three young men on Oct. 19, relying on a 
previous court ruling that found Canada's pot law unconstitutional. 
In making his decision, Judge Norman Edmondson cited a decision last 
July by a fellow judge of the Ontario Court of Justice.

In the earlier case, which is being appealed by the Crown, Judge 
Howard Borenstein accepted the defence lawyer's argument that Ottawa 
must pass a law - rather than rely solely on government policy - to 
allow accredited medical marijuana users to possess pot.

Health Canada has been forced by a series of court decisions to set 
up a medical marijuana program authorizing patients struggling with 
chronic conditions to use dope to alleviate their symptoms.

And a court ruling in 2003 required Health Canada to provide 
government-certified marijuana to these patients so they don't have 
to turn to the black market for their medicine.

In the July 13 Borenstein decision, defence lawyer Bryan McAllister 
successfully argued that the law itself should have been changed, not 
just the program. And because the law has not been rewritten to 
accommodate medical users, the prohibition on all use - including 
recreational use - collapses because the law is unconstitutional, the 
court ruled.

A spokeswoman for the Crown said the October decision in Oshawa will 
not be appealed.

"The decision of the trial judge is not binding upon any other trial 
judge and the [Borenstein] decision he relied upon ... was wrongly 
decided," Stephane Marinier, of the Brampton, Ont., office of Public 
Prosecution Service of Canada, said in a e-mail.

The Crown will make its counterarguments in an appeal of the 
Borenstein decision at Ontario's Superior Court of Justice, Ms. Marinier said.
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