HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medical Marijuana Law Gets Reprieve
Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jun 2011
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2011 Canoe Limited Partnership


TORONTO - The troubled federal medical marijuana program was granted a
reprieve until this fall when a constitutional challenge will be heard
at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Justice Donald Taliano ruled the marijuana program unconstitutional
two months ago and gave Ottawa until mid-July to repair the Medical
Marijuana Access Regulations (MMRA) or pot would be effectively
legalized in Ontario.

Doctors' "overwhelming refusal to participate in the medicinal
marijuana program completely undermines the effectiveness of the
program," Taliano wrote in his ruling.

Federal government lawyer Kevin Wilson asked for and received an
extension of that stay until Ontario's highest court could hear the
appeal, likely in November.

Justice Robert Blair of the Court of Appeal agreed to continue the
stay beyond mid-July, saying "irreparable harm" could ensue if he
didn't grant it.

"The practical effect of the decision if the suspension were permitted
to expire on July 14 would be to legalize marijuana production in
Ontario, if not across Canada," Blair said.

"And it will invalidate many ongoing prosecutions involving commercial
marijuana productions and possession offences before the appeal,"
Blair told a courtroom packed with supporters of Taliano's judgment.

"While most people in the courtroom today would applaud such a result,
there is much debate about this issue in this society, including about
the pros and cons as to whether marijuana is a harmless but valuable
therapeutic substance or whether its consumption has harmful effects
that may outweigh those considerations in the absence of a controlled
regime," Blair said.

Taliano was ruling on the case of a St. Catharines man, Matthew
Mernagh, 37, who was charged with growing his own pot to treat his
fibromyalgia, scoliosis, seizures and depression.

Marijuana "works best" for his pain without the harmful side effects
of other medications, he said Thursday.

Mernagh and 22 other people stricken with "serious, debilitating and
painful" conditions couldn't find doctors who were "prepared to
participate" in the medical marijuana program, said Mernagh's lawyer
Paul Lewin. "These people are being forced into the arms of the black
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