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Vancouver Company Brings Together Dispensaries and Licensed Producers in Second Annual Canadian Cannabis Awards

By admin | August 26, 2015

StreetInsider.com

Vancouver Company Brings Together Dispensaries and Licensed Producers in Second Annual Canadian Cannabis Awards

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — (Marketwired) — 08/26/15 — Lift Cannabis Co. (http://www.liftcannabis.ca) is pleased to announce that voting has officially opened for the second annual Canadian Cannabis Awards. The first of its kind in Canada, the awards provide an opportunity for patients from coast to coast to vote for their favourite medical marijuana strains, licensed producers, dispensaries, smoke shops, cannabis-focused medical clinics, and more. The Canadian Cannabis Awards are unique in that they’re the first to combine voting on products grown by licensed producers from within Health Canada’s federally regulated system, as well as those offered by dispensaries (which operate in a grey area outside of this system).

A special Cannabis Crusader award will also be handed out to an individual who has made significant contributions to the progression of cannabis knowledge, access, research, or acceptance. This year’s nominees are Owen Smith, who recently won a Supreme Court of Canada decision that made medical cannabis legal in all forms; Mandy McKnight, the mother of a child suffering from Dravet Syndrome who has campaigned for greater access to cannabis oils and other derivatives for children suffering from seizures; Jamie Shaw, a longtime Vancouver-based activist who has worked relentlessly to support medical cannabis dispensaries and provide policy recommendations to the media, government officials, health practitioners, and educators; and Jonathan Zaid, the Waterloo, Ontario student and patient-rights advocate who successfully fought for and received insurance coverage for his medical marijuana.

The goal of the Canadian Cannabis Awards is to recognize and celebrate the leaders in Canada’s rapidly growing medical marijuana industry. It also provides an opportunity to bring together an often disparate community of patients and stakeholders who exist and operate in different systems of access.

Tyler Sookochoff, founder of Lift, said of the awards, “We launched the first Canadian Cannabis Awards this time last year with the simple goal of providing patients from across Canada with a voice – but beyond that, we didn’t quite know what to expect. The response we got was amazing and the awards received national attention. The awards are becoming a key component in furthering the industry in terms of recognizing the quality, credibility, professionalism and impact on patients that many Canadian cannabis businesses provide.”

The public can vote by visiting www.canadiancannabisawards.com. Voting closes October 7 and the winners will be announced October 14.

About Lift:

Lift is a Vancouver-based patient services provider that makes exploring, purchasing, and consuming medical marijuana easier for Canadians. www.liftcannabis.ca.

Contacts:
Media contact:
David Brown
Director of Communications
1-800-681-1593
david@liftcannabis.ca

Source: Lift

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Justin Trudeau: Liberal Government Would Look at Overturning Convictions for Marijuana Crimes

By admin | August 19, 2015

by Travis Lupick – Georgia Straight

Canadians sitting in prison or stuck with a criminal record for crimes related to marijuana have a reason to vote Liberal in this October’s federal election.

At an August 19 campaign stop in Vancouver, prime ministerial hopeful Justin Trudeau reiterated a campaign promise to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. He then went one step further, adding that after a Liberal government is elected and has reversed laws that criminalize marijuana, it will begin discussing what should happen with people who have been charged for transgressions that the country no longer considers criminal.

“That’s something that we’ll be looking into as we move forward,” he said, answering a question from the Georgia Straight. “There has been many situations over history when laws come in that overturn previous convictions and there will be a process for that that we will set up in a responsible way.”

Trudeau initially took the question as an opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime record on marijuana.

“One of the things that we’ve seen is that Mr. Harper’s approach on drugs is actually financing gun runners and street crimes,” he said. “Mr. Harper has failed in his drug policy. It is time that Canada regulated and controlled marijuana to protect our kids, to protect our communities, and to prevent the funds from flowing into the coffers of drug runners and street gangs. It is time that we did that. It is time that Canada adjusted to the reality that controlling and regulating marijuana is a way of both protecting our kids, protecting the public, and ensuring that we are not financing gangs to millions and millions of dollars. And that is what we are committed to and that’s what we’ll get cracking on when we form a government.”

The federal NDP led by Thomas Mulcair has said it supports decriminalizing marijuana and, if elected, will consult with the provinces on the possibility of further reforms.

 

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Hearing to Rule on Victoria Officer’s Claim of Police Discrimination

By admin | August 18, 2015

Const. David Bratzer says he was Muzzled for Drug Legalization Views

Katie DeRosa / Times Colonist

 

A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing that started on Monday will decide whether a Victoria police officer was discriminated against by the department for his outspoken advocacy of drug legalization and regulation.

Const. David Bratzer said the department effectively muzzled him by limiting his right to speak publicly as a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) while off-duty.

Bratzer said the case is “about my employer’s attempt to suppress a core component of my political beliefs. What is the point of allowing a political belief if you can’t express it?”

The lawyer representing the Victoria Police Department said certain limits on its officers’ off-duty conduct are reasonable, given that officers have a responsibility to be loyal to their employer.

Bratzer, representing himself, told tribunal member Walter Rilkoff that in 2008 he notified his superiors of his intention to join LEAP, an international organization of current and former law-enforcement officials pushing for full legalization and regulation of drugs.

He assured them that if he participated in any public work on behalf of the organization, he would make clear that the views were personal and not representative of the Victoria Police Department.

Bratzer said after former chief Jamie Graham was hired in 2009, the two talked about Bratzer’s involvement, and Graham “made it clear this would not be good for my career.”

Bratzer said in February 2010, Graham barred him from participating in a panel discussion on harm reduction at Victoria City Hall. He was also ordered not to comment publicly on Washington state’s successful referendum on marijuana legalization and was sent several letters stating that Graham disapproved of his actions.

“[Graham] said to minimize anything publicly that has an impact on the department,” Bratzer said, including avoiding talking to local media.

In 2011 and 2012, Graham sent two letters to Bratzer setting out restrictions on the constable’s activities with LEAP, including that he must ask permission before speaking publicly about drug prohibition.

“This was a broad, global ban on my ability to share my political beliefs 24/7 for the remainder of my policing career,” Bratzer said.

Bratzer argued he was being treated differently from other officers because of his pro-legalization and regulation stance.

Sean Hern, the lawyer representing Victoria police, said Bratzer was not discriminated against for his political views and was not treated differently from anyone else in the department.

Hern said Bratzer has made the restrictions on his activities with LEAP sound more onerous than they were in order to create “a straw man” for the tribunal.

Hern said all Victoria police officers have a duty of loyalty to their employer.

“A balance is required between an employee’s right of free expression and the interests of the employer and its reputation in the community,” Hern said. “The irony is not lost on the media that a law enforcement officer doesn’t believe in the law he or she is enforcing.”

Hern said problems could arise if police officers have “an unfettered freedom of expression when off-duty.”

He pointed to examples of a traffic officer who says bike helmets are an affront to liberty or that seat belts should be a personal choice. He also used the more extreme examples of an officer who believes pedophilia is acceptable or that jihad is a justified response against capitalism.

Bratzer is asking Victoria police to pay him $100,000 to fund opportunities to speak publicly about LEAP and $65,000 in damages for emotional distress.

“These funds will provide a starting point to enable me to attempt to rebuild my international reputation as an advocate for drug-policy reform,” Bratzer said.

Bratzer is asking that the restrictions on public speaking be lifted and any reference to his political beliefs be removed from his personnel file. He is also seeking a letter of apology from the department, and wants senior Victoria police officers to undergo sensitivity and human-rights training.

The tribunal is expected to last two weeks.

http://www.leap.cc/

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Vancouver Island Farmer Hails Hemp as Demand Grows

By admin | August 17, 2015

Carla Wilson / Times Colonist

A Vancouver Island farmer is mounting a new effort to promote growing industrial hemp as demand for the products made from the crop increases.

Area farmers are expressing interest in growing hemp, said Blake Hunter of Good Seed Hemp Co. Inc., which sells hemp hearts, oils and protein powder.

“I am excited that this plant is being grown again here and believe that it can empower young and small-scale farmers,” said Hunter. “There is so much room for growth as more people discover the amazing health benefits and multiples uses of hemp.

“Victoria and Vancouver Island are probably the most receptive places in the country for hemp [products],” Hunter added.

His crop in the Cobble Hill area follows efforts by farmers in 1998 to grow hemp on a combined 35.6 acres on the south and mid Island. But ongoing problems with thieves led at least one farmer, Vern Michell on the Saanich Peninsula, to plow under a million plants.

Industrial hemp is not the same as marijuana, which contains the drug that gets people high. But some people don’t understand the difference. That’s why Hunter keeps the specific location of his leased site secret.

Originally from Saskatchewan, Hunter is a fifth-generation farmer. Starting in 2005, he grew hemp on the family farm, using seeds for the company’s products.

Good Seed Hemp products are sold at the Farmers’ City Market in Fan Tan Alley and other retail outlets. About 35 per cent of sales are online, Hunter said, noting “almost all our customers are on the Island.”

His only hemp crop this year allowed for planting on five of his 10 acres where he anticipates harvesting 3,000 pounds of seed. Plants grow up to 1.2 metres tall.

Seeds will be processed at a Salt Spring Island facility, he said.

Hunter said he is Metis and that hemp has been a traditional crop for indigenous nations in North America.

With harvest time approaching, Hunter has put out a call for 30 volunteers to cut and stook plants prior to threshing.

Hunter is hoping that interest in learning about hemp production will encourage people to turn out. Interested people can contact him at goodseedhemp.com

Hemp is grown on about 100,000 acres in Canada, mainly on larger tracts in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, said Kim Shukla, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trading Alliance. The number of acres growing hemp rises by about

30 per cent a year, she said.

“Hemp is like any other commercial crop,” Shukla said. “It gets grown in areas where it makes economic sense to grow it.”

One of the largest individual producers in Canada has about 8,000 acres in the crop, she said.

Shukla said high land prices in southern B.C. make hemp a less-viable crop. However, B.C.’s Peace River area is going through a resurgence of interest in hemp, she said, noting “that is exactly where hemp would make sense.”

With production and processing growing, there is “huge room to expand … we haven’t even touched the surface,” Shukla said. The market has been largely developed for the food sector, meaning seeds, hemp hearts and health products.

In the past three years, B.C. has exported about $200,000 worth of hemp products per year, said a statement from B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture. The U.S. is the largest export market.

Businessman Brian Johnson, a long-time Island advocate for the industrial hemp sector, is more optimistic about the viability of local production and the chances of seeing it grown more widely in 2016. A key barrier to farming hemp locally has been the lack of a processing plant, he said.

The likelihood of seeing such a plant on the Island is “very, very good,” he said, adding that he is dealing with potential investors.

Johnson, of TransGlobal Hemp Products Corp., said plans to grow industrial hemp on 18 acres this year fell through after the death of his business partner. Other growers were deterred by the drought.

 

HEMP: IT’S NOT THE SAME AS MARIJUANA

 

• Industrial hemp belongs to the species Cannabis sativa L. Unlike marijuana, it only contains small quantities of the

psychoactive drug delta-9

tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

• Hemp is grown for its seeds and fibre.

• About 85 per cent of hemp grown in Canada is for its seeds, used in food and health products.

• Hemp fibre has been used to make clothing, ropes and paper. The grain has been stewed, roasted and milled for food. It is used in hemp oil, protein powder, and sold as hemp hearts. Oil from the seeds has been used for cosmetics, lighting, paints, varnishes, and medicinal preparations, says Agriculture Canada.

• Hemp is a source of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and contains amino acids.

• Growers must be licensed by the federal government. Rules require a hemp parcel to be a minimum of 10 acres.

• Hemp can be grown without fungicides, herbicides and pesticides.

• Hemp matures in three to four months.

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Pot Lounge Legal: Police

By admin | August 13, 2015

By , Winnipeg Sun

 

Glenn Price’s former dispensary now just a smoke-up spot for registered users

Winnipeg police say a business owner who invites medical marijuana smokers to light up inside his lounge isn’t actually breaking the law.

Glenn Price, owner of Your Medical Cannabis Headquarters, re-opened his Main Street store on Tuesday as a lounge where users can medicate with marijuana. He was arrested for selling medical marijuana without Health Canada clearance on Aug. 4.

On Wednesday, Winnipeg police confirmed the new format, which no longer includes marijuana sales, is not illegal — as long as his users don’t break the law either.

“Provided Mr. Price does not possess cannabis marijuana without a license or registration card, and does not dispense any cannabis marijuana to any citizen, he is not breaking the law. If Mr. Price is in the presence of cannabis marijuana from another unlicensed or unregistered marijuana user, police will investigate that complaint like any other,” stated the Winnipeg Police Service in an e-mail.

To use the drug legally, a registered medical marijuana user must purchase it from a Health Canada-regulated dispensary by mail order only, which would ensure it isn’t contaminated by mould, pesticides or insecticides.

A licence or registration card, which requires a doctor’s prescription to get, must be carried by the user to legally possess the pot.

“Simply having a prescription for medical marijuana is not enough as the application process has not been completed and the individual is therefore in violation of the law,” the e-mail noted.

Price also hopes to sell T-shirts and other non-drug-related items, while he gathers signatures on a petition to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Winnipeg.

Price is currently charged with trafficking a scheduled substance, possession of a scheduled substance for the purpose of trafficking, possession of proceeds of property obtained by crime and possession of a scheduled substance. He was released on a recognizance.

Medical marijuana dispensaries do operate legally in Vancouver without Health Canada clearance.

 

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7 Answers About Health Canada’s New Med-Pot Rules

By admin | July 10, 2015

By Dana Larsen

 

1) I heard Health Canada just legalized cannabis cooking oil. What’s going on?

As a result of a recent Supreme Court decision, Health Canada has just announced that they will be allowing licensed medical marijuana producers (LPs) to also apply for a license to sell fresh, uncured cannabis buds, and cannabis-infused oils. However, LPs cannot sell extracts like hash, resin oil or shatter, or infused food products.

2) Why fresh cannabis buds? Won’t those just go moldy during shipping to patients?

I believe this provision is there so that an LP can sell their fresh buds to another LP for processing. Some LPs might find it easier to outsource this work, or be unable to secure their own processing license. However, it doesn’t make sense to me that any LPs would start putting fresh buds on their retail menus for patients. They’re just too hard to ship and there’s no demand for uncured buds, except maybe fresh cannabis leaves for home juicing.

3) What are patients supposed to do with this cannabis oil?

Patients will either consume it directly, or make their own food products out of it. Some LPs could sell the oil in capsule or dropper form, making it easy for patients to ingest a fixed dosage. If the base oil is smokable, then perhaps patients could smoke the extract.

However, the potency of the oil is limited by Health Canada to 30mg THC per mL, which comes to just 3%. That’s weaker than most strains of smokable cannabis, and represents a serious obstacle to proper medical access and use.

Interestingly, THC is the only cannabinoid listed, so presumably these cannabis oils can be sold with a very high level of CBD, CBN or any other cannabinoid except THC.

4) How will doctors feel about this?

Doctors will likely feel more comfortable prescribing orally ingested cannabis oil capsules with specific THC and CBD levels. So I see this as a win for the legitimizing of medical cannabis and bringing doctors into the system.

5) How will the Licensed Producers feel about this?

They should be ecstatic. This opens up a vast new market for them, and gives them a means to use and profit from the shake and leaf that they couldn’t sell for smoking purposes. LPs are definitely celebrating this victory.

I hope they also feel some shame as well, because they love to complain about how dispensaries are stealing their patients and costing them money. Yet this lengthy and expensive case was entirely funded by BC dispensaries, mainly the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, and the main beneficiary is definitely the LPs.

6) How will patients feel about this?

Patients are frustrated that once again, Health Canada is doing the absolute minimum to comply with a Supreme Court decision on medical cannabis. The Supreme Court decision included “extracts” as well as “edibles,” but Health Canada is allowing only one form of edible product and no extracts for sale at all. A better system would include all kinds of properly labelled and regulated extracts and edibles for patients.

7) How will Vancouver dispensaries feel about this?

Dispensaries are happy whenever patients get better access or Canada gets closer to legalizing for everyone. In Vancouver, where City Hall wants to ban food products and only allow edible oils, these federal rules already sound familiar. But a major difference is that Vancouver dispensaries can still also sell hash, resin oil, shatter and other smoked and non-smoked extracts, while the LPs can’t. Dispensaries are also annoyed that Health Canada refuses to acknowledge that they exist or integrate them into the legal system at all.

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First Medical Cannabis Dispensary In Canadian History Issued License In BC Small Town

By admin | June 23, 2015

Kimberley, BC Council Grants Business License to Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Carolyn Grant – Kimberley Daily Bulletin

posted Jun 23, 2015 at 10:29 AM

Mayor Don McCormick says he is proud of Kimberley City Council for making a progressive decision in the matter of granting a business license to Tamarack Dispensaries.

Tamarack Dispensaries will operate in Marysville and sell high quality medicinal cannabis products such as edible cookies, butters, oils and tinctures. When the proponents, Rod and Tamara Duggan presented to Council in April they said that the storefront would be “upscale and clinical”.

However, granting a business license was not as simple as one might think, because Council had to override its own bylaw to do so.

“Staff was obligated to reject the business license application because it didn’t meet the bylaw for complying with federal regulations,” McCormick said. “But Council can override that bylaw.”

And that is what Council did after a lengthy discussion, focusing mainly on the implications of allowing such a business in Kimberley. The vote was unanimous in favour.

“I am proud of Council for taking a progressive position on what is a controversial issue,” McCormick said. “We are not trying to be controversial, just applying common sense.”

Cannabis dispensaries do operate in a grey area without permits from Health Canada, the mayor says, and most municipalities just turn a blind eye to their existence.

“We are trying to remove it from the grey area and bring it under municipal regulation.

“It’s unclear what the implications are but change is driven by market.

“The picture is not someone smoking pot in a back room. These are derivatives produced to assist with long term illness. This isn’t about pot but a medical solution for chronic pain.”

McCormick points out that many people are prescribed powerful, addictive narcotics to manage illness and pain, and if there is an alternative it only makes sense to explore it.

McCormick said the Duggans presented a very clear business plan and have their own compelling personal reasons for wanting to open the store.

When they visited Council, Tamara Duggan said, ““Our vision is to add a viable, legitimate, and clinical business to Kimberley’s economy. Our research indicates that the presence of medical marijuana dispensaries is a growth industry in Canada with BC being the leader. And it provides a vital enhancement to the government’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes regulations.”

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Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision RvSmith Thurs July 11th 2015

By admin | June 12, 2015

R. v. Smith

Supreme Court Judgments

Case name R. v. Smith
Collection Supreme Court Judgments
Date 2015-06-11
Neutral citation 2015 SCC 34
Case number 36059
Judges McLachlin, Beverley; Abella, Rosalie Silberman; Cromwell, Thomas Albert; Karakatsanis, Andromache; Wagner, Richard; Gascon, Clément; Côté, Suzanne
On appeal from British Columbia
Subjects Constitutional law
Notes SCC Case Information: 36059

 

 

SUPREME COURT OF CANADA

 

Citation: R. v. Smith, 2015 SCC 34

 

Between:

Her Majesty The Queen

Appellant

and

Owen Edward Smith

Respondent

- and -

Santé Cannabis, Criminal Lawyers’ Association (Ontario), Canadian Civil Liberties Association, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Canadian AIDS Society, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario

Interveners

 

 

Coram: McLachlin C.J. and Abella, Cromwell, Karakatsanis, Wagner, Gascon and Côté JJ.

 

Reasons for Judgment: 

(paras. 1 to 34)

The Court

 

Note: This document is subject to editorial revision before its reproduction in final form in the Canada Supreme Court Reports.

 

 

r. v. smith

Her Majesty The Queen                                                                                 Appellant

v.

Owen Edward Smith                                                                                   Respondent

and

Santé Cannabis,

Criminal Lawyers’ Association (Ontario),

Canadian Civil Liberties Association,

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association,

Canadian AIDS Society, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and

HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario                                                             Interveners

Indexed as: R. v. Smith

2015 SCC 34

File No.: 36059.

2015: March 20; 2015: June 11.

Present: McLachlin C.J. and Abella, Cromwell, Karakatsanis, Wagner, Gascon and Côté JJ.

on appeal from the court of appeal for british columbia

Constitutional law — Charter of Rights — Standing — Accused charged with possession and possession for purpose of trafficking of cannabis — Regulations limiting lawful possession of medical marihuana to dried forms — Accused not using marihuana for medical purposes but producing derivatives for sale outside regulatory scheme — Whether accused has standing to challenge constitutional validity of scheme — Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19 , ss. 4(1) , 5(2) — Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, SOR/2001‑227.

Constitutional law — Charter of Rights — Right to life, liberty and security of person — Fundamental justice — Accused charged with possession and possession for purpose of trafficking of cannabis — Regulations limiting lawful possession of medical marihuana to dried forms — Whether limitation infringes s. 7 of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — If so, whether infringement justifiable under s. 1 of Charter — Appropriate remedy — Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19 , ss. 4(1) , 5(2) — Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, SOR/2001‑227.

S produced edible and topical marihuana derivatives for sale by extracting the active compounds from the cannabis plant. He operated outside the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (“MMARs”), which limit lawful possession of medical marihuana to dried marihuana. S does not himself use marihuana for medical purposes. The police charged him with possession and possession for purpose of trafficking of cannabis contrary to ss. 4(1) and 5(2) , respectively, of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (“CDSA ”). The trial judge held that the prohibition on non‑dried forms of medical marihuana unjustifiably infringes s. 7 of the Charter and a majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Held: The appeal should be dismissed, the Court of Appeal’s suspension of the declaration of invalidity deleted and S’s acquittal affirmed.

S has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the MMARs. Accused persons have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law under which they are charged, even if the alleged unconstitutional effects are not directed at them, or even if not all possible remedies for the constitutional deficiency will end the charges against them.

The prohibition on possession of non‑dried forms of medical marihuana limits the s. 7 Charter right to liberty of the person in two ways. First, the prohibition deprives S as well as medical marihuana users of their liberty by imposing a threat of imprisonment on conviction under s. 4(1) or 5(2) of the CDSA . Second, it 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.

These limits are contrary to the principles of fundamental justice because they are arbitrary; the effects of the prohibition contradict the objective of protecting health and safety. The evidence amply supports the trial judge’s conclusions that inhaling marihuana can present health risks and that it is less effective for some conditions than administration of cannabis derivatives. In other words, there is no connection between the prohibition on non‑dried forms of medical marihuana and the health and safety of the patients who qualify for legal access to medical marihuana.

In this case, the objective of the prohibition is the same under both the ss. 7 and 1 Charter analyses: the protection of health and safety. It follows that the same disconnect between the prohibition and its object that renders it arbitrary under s. 7 frustrates the requirement under s. 1 that the limit on the right be rationally connected to a pressing objective. The infringement of s. 7 is therefore not justified under s. 1 .

However, ss. 4 and 5 of the CDSA should not be struck down in their entirety. The appropriate remedy is a declaration that these provisions are of no force and effect, to the extent that they prohibit a person with a medical authorization from possessing cannabis derivatives for medical purposes; however, that declaration is not suspended because it would leave patients without lawful medical treatment and the law and law enforcement in limbo.

Cases Cited

Referred to: R. v. Parker (2000), 146 C.C.C. (3d) 193; R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30; R. v. Latchmana, 2008 ONCJ 187, 170 C.R.R. (2d) 128; R. v. Clay (2000), 49 O.R. (3d) 577; Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486; Hitzig v. Canada (2003), 231 D.L.R. (4th) 104; Housen v. Nikolaisen, 2002 SCC 33, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 235; Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44, [2011] 3 S.C.R. 134; Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101; Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, [2015] 1 S.C.R. 331; R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103.

Statutes and Regulations Cited

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , ss. 1 , 7 .

Constitution Act, 1982 , s. 52 .

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19 , ss. 4 , 5 , 19 , 55 .

Food and Drugs Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F‑27 .

Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, SOR/2013‑119.

Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, SOR/2001‑227 [rep. 2013‑119, s. 267], ss. 1 “dried marihuana”, 24, 34.

APPEAL from a judgment of the British Columbia Court of Appeal (Levine, Chiasson and Garson JJ.A.), 2014 BCCA 322, 360 B.C.A.C. 66, 617 W.A.C. 66, 315 C.C.C. (3d) 36, 316 C.R.R. (2d) 205, 14 C.R. (7th) 81, [2014] B.C.J. No. 2097 (QL), 2014 CarswellBC 2383 (WL Can.), setting aside in part a decision of Johnston J., 2012 BCSC 544, 290 C.C.C. (3d) 91, 257 C.R.R. (2d) 129, [2012] B.C.J. No. 730 (QL), 2012 CarswellBC 1043 (WL Can.). Appeal dismissed.

W. Paul Riley, Q.C., and Kevin Wilson, for the appellant.

Kirk I. Tousaw, John W. Conroy, Q.C., Matthew J. Jackson and Bibhas D. Vaze, for the respondent.

Julius H. Grey and Geneviève Grey, for the intervener Santé Cannabis.

Gerald Chan and Nader R. Hasan, for the intervener the Criminal Lawyers’ Association (Ontario).

Andrew K. Lokan and Debra McKenna, for the intervener the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Jason B. Gratl, for the intervener the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

Written submissions only by Paul Burstein, Ryan Peck and Richard Elliott, for the interveners the Canadian AIDS Society, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario.

 

 

The following is the judgment delivered by

 

The Court —

[1]                              Regulations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19 (“CDSA ”), permit the use of marihuana for treating medical conditions.  However, they confine medical access to “dried marihuana”, so that those who are legally authorized to possess marihuana for medical purposes are still prohibited from possessing cannabis products extracted from the active medicinal compounds in the cannabis plant.  The result is that patients who obtain dried marihuana pursuant to that authorization cannot choose to administer it via an oral or topical treatment, but must inhale it, typically by smoking. Inhaling marihuana can present health risks and is less effective for some conditions than administration of cannabis derivatives.

[2]                              The parties accept the conclusion of the Ontario Court of Appeal in R. v. Parker (2000), 146 C.C.C. (3d) 193, that a blanket prohibition on medical access to marihuana infringes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms . This appeal requires us to decide whether a medical access regime that only permits access to dried marihuana unjustifiably violates the guarantee of life, liberty and security of the person contrary to s. 7 of the Charter .  The British Columbia courts ruled it did, and we agree.

I.              Background

[3]                              The CDSA prohibits the possession, production, and distribution of cannabis, its active compounds, and its derivatives.  In recognition of the fact that controlled substances may have beneficial uses, the CDSA empowers the government to create exemptions by regulation for medical, scientific or industrial purposes (s. 55 ).  The Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, SOR/2001-227 (“MMARs”), created such an exemption for people who could demonstrate a medical need for cannabis.  Applicants had to provide a declaration from a medical practitioner certifying that conventional treatments were ineffective or medically inappropriate for treatment of their medical condition.  Once they had met all the regulatory requirements, patients were legally authorized to possess “dried marihuana”, defined as “harvested marihuana that has been subjected to any drying process” (s. 1 ).  Some patients were authorized to grow their own marihuana, under a personal-use production licence (s. 24), while others obtained the drug from a designated licensed producer (s. 34).

[4]                              The MMARs were replaced in 2013 with the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, SOR/2013-119 (“MMPRs”).  The new regime replaces the marihuana production scheme in the MMARs with a system of government-licensed producers.  For the purposes of this appeal, however, the situation remains unchanged: for medical marihuana patients, the exemption from the CDSA offence is still confined to dried marihuana.

[5]                              The accused, Owen Edward Smith, worked for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, located on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia.  The Club sold marihuana and cannabis derivative products to members — people the Club was satisfied had a bona fide medical condition for which marihuana might provide relief, based on a doctor’s diagnosis or laboratory test.  It sold not only dried marihuana for smoking, but edible and topical cannabis products — cookies, gel capsules, rubbing oil, topical patches, butters and lip balms.  It also provided members with recipe books for how to make such products by extracting the active compounds from dried marihuana.  Mr. Smith’s job was to produce edible and topical cannabis products for sale by extracting the active compounds from the cannabis plant.  Mr. Smith does not himself use medical marihuana, and the Club did not have a production licence under the MMARs.

[6]                              On December 3, 2009, the police, responding to a complaint about an offensive smell, paid Mr. Smith a visit at his apartment in Victoria, and saw marihuana on a table.  They obtained a search warrant and seized the apartment’s inventory, which included 211 cannabis cookies, a bag of dried marihuana, and 26 jars of liquids whose labels included “massage oil” and “lip balm”.  Laboratory testing established that the cookies and the liquid in the jars contained tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the main active compound in cannabis. THC, like the other active compounds in cannabis, does not fall under the MMARs exemption for dried marihuana. The police charged Mr. Smith with possession of THC for the purpose of trafficking contrary to s. 5(2) of the CDSA , and possession of cannabis contrary to s. 4(1) of the CDSA .

[7]                              At his trial before Johnston J., Mr. Smith argued that the CDSA prohibition on possession, in combination with the exemption in the MMARs, was inconsistent with s. 7 of the Charter and unconstitutional because it limits lawful possession of marihuana for medical purposes to “dried marihuana”.  Many witnesses, expert and lay, were called.  At the end of the voir dire, the judge made the following findings (2012 BCSC 544, 290 C.C.C. (3d) 91):

(1)      The active compounds of the cannabis plant, such as THC and cannabidiol, have established medical benefits and their therapeutic effect is generally accepted, although the precise basis for the benefits has not yet been established.

(2)   Different methods of administering marihuana offer different medical benefits.  For example, oral ingestion of the active compounds, whether by way of products baked with THC-infused oil or butter, or gel capsules filled with the active compounds, may aid gastro-intestinal conditions by direct delivery to the site of the pathology.  Further, oral administration results in a slower build-up and longer retention of active compounds in the system than inhaling, allowing the medical benefits to continue over a longer period of time, including while the patient is asleep.  It is therefore more appropriate for chronic conditions.

(3)   Inhaling marihuana, typically through smoking, provides quick access to the medical benefits of cannabis, but also has harmful side effects.  Although less harmful than tobacco smoke, smoking marihuana presents acknowledged risks, as it exposes patients to carcinogenic chemicals and is associated with bronchial disorders.

[8]                              The trial judge found that the restriction to dried marihuana deprives Mr. Smith and medical marihuana users of their liberty by imposing a threat of prosecution and incarceration for possession of the active compounds in cannabis. He also found that it deprives medical users of the liberty to choose how to take medication they are authorized to possess, a decision which he characterized as “of fundamental personal importance”, contrary to s. 7 of the Charter (para. 88). These limits offend the principles of fundamental justice because they are arbitrary; limiting the medical exemption to dried marihuana does “little or nothing” to enhance the state’s interest in preventing diversion of illegal drugs or in controlling false and misleading claims of medical benefit (para. 114).  For the same reason, the trial judge held that the restriction is not rationally connected to its objectives, and hence not justified under s. 1 of the Charter .

[9]                              The majority of the Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s conclusions on the evidence and the constitutional issues, although it characterized the object of the prohibition more broadly, as the protection of health and safety (2014 BCCA 322, 360 B.C.A.C. 66).  Chiasson J.A., dissenting, held that Mr. Smith did not have standing to raise the constitutional issue, and that in any event the restriction did not violate s. 7 because medical users could legally convert dried marihuana into other forms.

II.           Discussion

[10]                          Three issues arise: Mr. Smith’s standing to challenge the constitutionality of the prohibition; the constitutionality of the prohibition; and the appropriate remedy.

A.           Standing

[11]                          The first question is whether Mr. Smith has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the prohibition.  We conclude that he does. The Crown took no issue with Mr. Smith’s standing at trial. On appeal, although the issue was canvassed in oral argument, the Crown acknowledged that the principle “that no one can be convicted of an offence under an unconstitutional law” applied to Mr. Smith (R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295, at p. 313; C.A. reasons, at para. 147).  Before this Court, the Crown adopted Chiasson J.A.’s dissenting position, arguing that Mr. Smith does not have standing because he does not himself use medical marihuana and operated outside the regulatory scheme. The restriction to dried marihuana therefore has “nothing to do with him” (C.A. reasons, at para. 151).

[12]                          This overlooks the role the MMARs play in the statutory scheme.  They operate as an exception to the offence provisions under which Mr. Smith was charged, ss. 4 and 5 of the CDSA .  As the majority of the Court of Appeal said, the issue is whether those sections of the CDSA , “as modified by the MMARs, deprive people authorized to possess marijuana of a constitutionally protected right by restricting the exemption from criminal prosecution to possession of dried marijuana” (para. 85).  Nor does the fact that Mr. Smith is not a medical marihuana user and does not have a production licence under the regime mean he has no standing.  Accused persons have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law they are charged under, even if the alleged unconstitutional effects are not directed at them: R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30; Big M Drug Mart.  Nor need accused persons show that all possible remedies for the constitutional deficiency will as a matter of course end the charges against them. In cases where a claimant challenges a law by arguing that the law’s impact on other persons is inconsistent with the Charter , it is always possible that a remedy issued under s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 will not touch on the claimant’s own situation: see R. v. Latchmana, 2008 ONCJ 187, 170 C.R.R. (2d) 128, at para. 16; R. v. Clay (2000), 49 O.R. (3d) 577 (C.A.).

[13]                          In this case, the constitutionality of the statutory provision under which Mr. Smith is charged is directly dependent on the constitutionality of the medical exemption provided by the MMARs: see Parker.  He is therefore entitled to challenge it.

B.            The Constitutionality of the Prohibition

[14]                          This appeal asks the Court to determine whether restricting medical access to marihuana to dried marihuana violates s. 7 of the Charter :

 

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

[15]                          Section 7 permits the law to limit life, liberty and security of the person, provided it does so in a way that is not contrary to the principles of fundamental justice.

[16]                          The first question in the s. 7 analysis is whether the law limits life, liberty or security of the person.  We conclude that it does. The legislative scheme’s restriction of medical marihuana to dried marihuana limits s. 7 rights in two ways.

[17]                          First, the prohibition on possession of cannabis derivatives infringes Mr. Smith’s liberty interest, by exposing him to the threat of imprisonment on conviction under s. 4(1) or 5(2) of the CDSA . Any offence that includes incarceration in the range of possible sanctions engages liberty: Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486, at p. 515.  The prohibition also engages the liberty interest of medical marihuana users, as they could face criminal sanctions if they produce or possess cannabis products other than dried marihuana.  We cannot accede to the dissenting judge’s position on this point: the MMARs do not authorize medical marihuana users to convert dried marihuana into its active compounds.  An authorization to possess medical marihuana is no defence for a patient found in possession of an alternate dosage form, such as cannabis cookies, THC-infused massage oil, or gel capsules filled with THC.

[18]                          Second, the prohibition on possession of active cannabis compounds for medical purposes limits liberty by foreclosing reasonable medical choices through the threat of criminal prosecution: Parker, at para. 92.  In this case, the state prevents people who have already established a legitimate need for marihuana — a need the legislative scheme purports to accommodate — from choosing the method of administration of the drug.  On the evidence accepted by the trial judge, this denial is not trivial; it subjects the person to the risk of cancer and bronchial infections associated with smoking dry marihuana, and precludes the possibility of choosing a more effective treatment.  Similarly, by forcing a person to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective choice, the law also infringes security of the person: Morgentaler; Hitzig v. Canada (2003), 231 D.L.R. (4th) 104 (Ont. C.A.).

[19]                          The Crown says that the evidence adduced on the voir dire did not establish that the prohibition on alternative forms of cannabis intruded on any s. 7 interest, beyond the deprivation of physical liberty imposed by the criminal sanction. It says that the evidence did not prove that alternative forms of medical marihuana had any therapeutic benefit; at most it established that the patient witnesses preferred cannabis products to other treatment options.  This submission runs counter to the findings of fact made by the trial judge.  After a careful review of extensive expert and personal evidence, the trial judge concluded that in some circumstances the use of cannabis derivatives is more effective and less dangerous than smoking or otherwise inhaling dried marihuana. A trial judge’s conclusions on issues of fact cannot be set aside unless they are unsupported by the evidence or otherwise manifestly in error: Housen v. Nikolaisen, 2002 SCC 33, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 235.  The evidence amply supports the trial judge’s conclusions on the benefits of alternative forms of marihuana treatment; indeed, even the Health Canada materials filed by the Crown’s expert witness indicated that oral ingestion of cannabis may be appropriate or beneficial for certain conditions.

[20]                          The expert evidence, along with the anecdotal evidence from the medical marihuana patients who testified, did more than establish a subjective preference for oral or topical treatment forms.  The fact that the lay witnesses did not provide medical reports asserting a medical need for an alternative form of cannabis is not, as the Crown suggests, determinative of the analysis under s. 7 .  While it is not necessary to conclusively determine the threshold for the engagement of s. 7 in the medical context, we agree with the majority at the Court of Appeal that it is met by the facts of this case.  The evidence demonstrated that the decision to use non-dried forms of marihuana for treatment of some serious health conditions is medically reasonable.  To put it another way, there are cases where alternative forms of cannabis will be “reasonably required” for the treatment of serious illnesses (C.A. reasons, at para. 103). In our view, in those circumstances, the criminalization of access to the treatment in question infringes liberty and security of the person.

[21]                          We conclude that the prohibition on possession of non-dried forms of medical marihuana limits liberty and security of the person, engaging s. 7 of the Charter .  This leaves the second question — whether this limitation is contrary to the principles of fundamental justice.

[22]                          The trial judge found that the limits on liberty and security of the person imposed by the law were not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, because the restriction was arbitrary, doing “little or nothing” to further its objectives, which he took to be the control of illegal drugs or false and misleading claims of medical benefit.  The majority of the Court of Appeal, which found that the objective of the prohibition was the protection of public health and safety (relying on Hitzig and Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44, [2011] 3 S.C.R. 134), likewise concluded it did not further that objective and was thus arbitrary and contrary to the principles of fundamental justice.

[23]                          It is necessary to determine the object of the prohibition, since a law is only arbitrary if it imposes limits on liberty or security of the person that have no connection to its purpose: Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101, at para. 98.

[24]                          The Crown does not challenge the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that the object of the prohibition on non-dried forms of medical marihuana is the protection of health and safety.  However, it goes further, arguing that the restriction protects health and safety by ensuring that drugs offered for therapeutic purposes comply with the safety, quality and efficacy requirements set out in the Food and Drugs Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-27 , and its regulations.  This qualification does not alter the object of the prohibition; it simply describes one of the means by which the government seeks to protect public health and safety.  Moreover, the MMARs do not purport to subject dried marihuana to these safety, quality and efficacy requirements, belying the Crown’s assertion that this is the object of the prohibition. We therefore conclude that the object of the restriction to dried marihuana is simply the protection of health and safety.

[25]                          The question is whether there is a connection between the prohibition on non-dried forms of medical marihuana and the health and safety of the patients who qualify for legal access to medical marihuana.  The trial judge concluded that for some patients, alternate forms of administration using cannabis derivatives are more effective than inhaling marihuana.  He also concluded that the prohibition forces people with a legitimate, legally recognized need to use marihuana to accept the risk of harm to health that may arise from chronic smoking of marihuana.  It follows from these findings that the prohibition on non-dried medical marihuana undermines the health and safety of medical marihuana users by diminishing the quality of their medical care.  The effects of the prohibition contradict its objective, rendering it arbitrary: see Bedford, at paras. 98-100.

[26]                          The Crown says there are health risks associated with extracting the active compounds in marihuana for administration via oral or topical products.  It argues that there is a rational connection between the state objective of protecting health and safety and a regulatory scheme that only allows access to drugs that are shown by scientific study to be safe and therapeutically effective.  We disagree.  The evidence accepted at trial did not establish a connection between the restriction and the promotion of health and safety.  As we have already said, dried marihuana is not subject to the oversight of the Food and Drugs Act regime.  It is therefore difficult to understand why allowing patients to transform dried marihuana into baking oil would put them at greater risk than permitting them to smoke or vaporize dried marihuana.  Moreover, the Crown provided no evidence to suggest that it would. In fact, as noted above, some of the materials filed by the Crown mention oral ingestion of cannabis as a viable alternative to smoking marihuana.

[27]                          Finally, the evidence established no connection between the impugned restriction and attempts to curb the diversion of marihuana into the illegal market.  We are left with a total disconnect between the limit on liberty and security of the person imposed by the prohibition and its object.  This renders it arbitrary: see Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, [2015] 1 S.C.R. 331, at para. 83.

[28]                          We conclude that the prohibition of non-dried forms of medical marihuana 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.  It therefore violates s. 7 of the Charter .

[29]                          The remaining question is whether the Crown has shown this violation of s. 7 to be reasonable and demonstrably justified under s. 1 of the Charter . As explained in Bedford, the s. 1 analysis focuses on the furtherance of the public interest and thus differs from the s. 7 analysis, which is focused on the infringement of the individual rights: para. 125.  However, in this case, the objective of the prohibition is the same in both analyses: the protection of health and safety.  It follows that the same disconnect between the prohibition and its object that renders it arbitrary under s. 7 frustrates the requirement under s. 1 that the limit on the right be rationally connected to a pressing objective (R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103). Like the courts below, we conclude that the infringement of s. 7 is not justified under s. 1 of the Charter .

C.            Remedy

[30]                          A law is “of no force or effect” to the extent it is inconsistent with the guarantees in the Charter : s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 .  We have concluded that restricting medical access to marihuana to its dried form is inconsistent with the Charter . It follows that to this extent the restriction is null and void.

[31]                          The precise form the order should take is complicated by the fact that it is the combination of the offence provisions and the exemption that creates the unconstitutionality.  The offence provisions in the CDSA should not be struck down in their entirety. Nor is the exemption, insofar as it goes, problematic — the problem is that it is too narrow, or under-inclusive.  We conclude that the appropriate remedy is a declaration that ss. 4 and 5 of the CDSA are of no force and effect, to the extent that they prohibit a person with a medical authorization from possessing cannabis derivatives for medical purposes.

[32]                          We would reject the Crown’s request that the declaration of invalidity be suspended to keep the prohibition in force pending Parliament’s response, if any.  (What Parliament may choose to do or not do is complicated by the variety of available options and the fact that the MMARs have been replaced by a new regime.)  To suspend the declaration would leave patients without lawful medical treatment and the law and law enforcement in limbo.  We echo the Ontario Court of Appeal in Hitzig, at para. 170: “A suspension of our remedy would simply [continue the] undesirable uncertainty for a further period of time.”

III.        Disposition

[33]                          We would dismiss the appeal, but vary the Court of Appeal’s order by deleting the suspension of its declaration and instead issue a declaration that ss. 4 and 5 of the CDSA are of no force and effect to the extent that they prohibit a person with a medical authorization from possessing cannabis derivatives for medical purposes.

[34]                          At no point in the course of these proceedings did the British Columbia courts or this Court issue a declaration rendering the charges against Mr. Smith unconstitutional.  In fact, following the voir dire, the trial judge refused to grant a judicial stay of proceedings.  Despite this, the Crown chose not to adduce any evidence at trial.  As a result of the Crown’s choice, Mr. Smith was acquitted.  We see no reason why the Crown should be allowed to reopen the case following this appeal.  Mr. Smith’s acquittal is affirmed.

 

 

 

Appeal dismissed.

Solicitor for the appellant: Public Prosecution Service of Canada, Vancouver.

Solicitors for the respondent: Tousaw Law Corporation, Duncan, British Columbia; Conroy and Company, Abbotsford; Henshall Scouten, Vancouver; Bibhas D. Vaze, Vancouver.

Solicitors for the intervener Santé Cannabis: Grey Casgrain, Montréal.

Solicitors for the intervener the Criminal Lawyers’ Association (Ontario): Ruby Shiller Chan Hasan, Toronto.

Solicitors for the intervener the Canadian Civil Liberties Association: Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein, Toronto.

Solicitors for the intervener the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association: Gratl & Company, Vancouver.

Solicitors for the interveners the Canadian AIDS Society, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario: Burstein Bryant Barristers, Toronto; HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario, Toronto; Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Toronto.

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Canadian Supreme Court Votes Unanimously To Broaden Definition Of Medical Marijuana To Include Derivatives

By admin | June 11, 2015

by Ted Smith

 

Thurs June 11, 2015

Victoria, B.C.: In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that patients should have legal access to cannabis derivatives in a case involving former head baker of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, Owen Smith. The ruling takes effect immediately across the country. A press conference to discuss details of the decision and the trial will take place at the VCBC at 11 am.

In Dec 2009, Owen was arrested making cookies for patients of the VCBC and was charged with possession for the purposes of trafficking THC, the most active chemical in the cannabis plant. Since the beginning of its medical cannabis programs, Health Canada has given patients an authorization to possess and grow cannabis for medical reasons, but has prohibited them from extracting the resins or other active chemicals by making tea, hash or butter to make cookies. For many patients, especially children and the elderly, using cannabis extracts is the only reasonable method of ingestion.

Today’s ruling also confirmed the principle that no one can be convicted of an unconstitutional law, a concept not accepted by some of the lower court judges that dealt with this case. The SCC is very clear in its ruling, stating that a defendant can argue a law violates the rights of others, even if the breach does not directly affect them.

While it is unclear how quickly Health Canada will react to this ruling, there is no doubt many Licensed Producers will be keen to produce cannabis suppositories, capsules and creams. Ironically, though it was a dispensary that fought this case to the high court, storefront compassion clubs have never been part of the federal government’s programs and any changes to the regulations resulting from this decision will likely benefit Licensed Producers. In the meantime, though, patients are safe from the law when they make tea, hash or cookies with their cannabis, if they could legally possess the herb in the first place.

For more information call 250-381-4220 or email hempo101@gmail.com.

http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-…/scc-csc/…/item/15403/index.do

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoiTvCSj70E

http://forum.cannabisdigest.ca/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5370

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Will Owen Smith Change The Law On June 11?

By admin | June 8, 2015

By Ted Smith

Mon June 8, 2015

Victoria, B.C.: On Thurs June 11, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada will hand down its decision in the trial of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club.  This is the first time the highest court in the land has ruled on a medical cannabis case.  A press conference will be held Thurs morning at the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, 826 Johnsons St, at 11am to explain how this decision will impact the distribution of cannabis as medicine.

In Dec 2009, Owen was arrested making cookies for patients of the VCBC and was charged with possession for the purposes of trafficking THC, the most active chemical in the cannabis plant.  Since the beginning of its medical cannabis programs, Health Canada has given patients an authorization to possess and grow cannabis for medical reasons, but has prohibited them from extracting the resins or other active chemicals by making tea, hash or butter to make cookies.  For many patients, especially children and the elderly, using cannabis extracts is the only reasonable method of ingestion.

Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, with the help of expert witness Dr. David Pate and 4 patient witnesses, convinced a Supreme Court of BC judge that the laws were unconstitutional because they violate a patient’s security of the person for no valid purpose.  In a 2-1 decision last year, the BC Court of Appeal agreed, while affirming the concept that no one can be convicted on an unconstitutional law, even if the violation does not affect them directly.  Unwilling to accept defeat on this matter, the federal government appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

A video of the SCC hearing is available on the Youtube channel provided below.  It seems clear from the questions of the esteemed judges that the government’s position that smoked cannabis is safer because it has been studied more.  While it is unclear what remedy the high court may try and steer the federal government towards, many are convinced this decision will change the direction of the medical cannabis industry in Canada by allowing a broad range of new products to become available.

For more information call 250-381-4220 or email hempo101@gmail.com.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoiTvCSj70E

http://www.scc-csc.gc.ca/case-dossier/info/sum-som-eng.aspx?cas=36059

http://forum.cannabisdigest.ca/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5370

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