Supreme Court Redefines Medical Marijuana

Canada’s medical marijuana paradox: Health Canada recommends that all medical marijuana patients use their medicine in ways that are illegal.

Update: This article originally appeared on 11 June 2015. Since then, Health Canada has acquiesced to the courts (and common sense) by permitting oils and extracts.

Under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) that came into effect in October 2013, only Licensed Producers (LPs) of medical marijuana could cultivate, grow, harvest, and sell dried medical marijuana. LPs are large, often publicly-traded corporations who grow huge crops to serve thousands of patients across the country at a profit. The regulations eliminated individual growers and “mom-and-pop” style cooperatives that served local patients at a fraction of cost under the old Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR).

In their second ruling in as many months against MMPR, the Supreme Court of Canada redefined Medical Marijuana in Owen Smith’s trial today. Smith was on trial for possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana, because he produced medicinal baked goods. Health Canada recommends that medical marijuana patients consume their medicine and not smoke it, but patients cannot possess marijuana in any form other than dried herb. MMPR prohibits cannabis capsules, tinctures, edibles, and other forms.

Today’s unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court expands the definition to include derivative products.

The court found that the restriction on form “limits the liberty of medical users by foreclosing reasonable medical choices through the threat of criminal prosecution. Similarly, by forcing a person to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one, the law also infringes security of the person.” Patients can now legally possess forms that are more beneficial to them.

Hon. Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Health Minister claims outrage at today’s news. Stephen Harper’s government says that the courts have no role in defining medicine, but we know that the role of the Supreme Court is deciding whether a law is constitutional. Health Canada should have performed proper due diligence before passing this legislation to determine whether their rules were constitutional, rather than waiting for the Supreme Court to strike it down repeatedly. Instead, they remain devoted to paying lawyers with taxpayer money to defend unconstitutional laws. It is time for Health Canada to drop archaic policies based on political posturing, read some of the actual research on medical marijuana, and develop a sensible marijuana policy.

In the next few weeks, our LoveMJ blog will have information about various forms of medical cannabis, their preparation, and their benefits.

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