Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Supreme Court Rejects Government's Limited Definition of Medical Marijuana

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Supreme Court Rejects Government's Limited Definition of Medical Marijuana

Article excerpt

High court redefines medical marijuana

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The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously that medical marijuana can be legally consumed in products such as cookies, brownies and teas, a decision that "outraged" the federal government but elated the baker at the centre of the case.

Federal regulations had previously stipulated that authorized users of physician-prescribed cannabis could only consume dried marijuana.

But the high court said in a 7-0 decision on Thursday that limiting medical consumption to dried pot infringes on liberty protections under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"Across the country there will be a lot more smiles and a lot less pain," said Owen Smith, a former baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, whose 2009 arrest spurred the legal challenge.

Smith was charged after police found hundreds of pot cookies and cannabis-infused olive and grapeseed oils in his Victoria apartment. He was acquitted at trial and won an appeal.

The decision was yet another rebuke of the Harper government's tough-on-crime agenda.

Not only was it unanimous, but the court made a point of attributing the written decision to the entire court -- something the justices do when they want to underline a finding.

"The prohibition of non-dried forms of medical marijuana limits liberty and security of the person in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice," said the written judgement.

The initial trial judge in Smith's case gave the federal government a year to change the laws around cannabis extracts, but the top court said its ruling takes effect immediately.

Cheryl Rose, whose daughter Hayley takes cannabis for a severe form of epilepsy, was overjoyed by the decision and said her 22-year-old's seizures have dropped dramatically.

Under the old law, Hayley was ingesting 15 capsules of dried cannabis daily. Now, she will only have to swallow one concentrated capsule made with oil.

"Without having extracts available for her, I don't think we'd be able to keep it up. It's way too much for a person to consume," she said. "She's finally going to fully have her life back. …

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