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Ottawa appeals ruling that could lead to legalization of marijuana in Ontario

By admin | May 10, 2011

(The Canadian Press) – Apr 19, 2011

TORONTO — Ottawa is appealing an Ontario court ruling that, if left to stand, could make the possession of marijuana legal in the province.

The Public Prosecution Office of Canada announced Tuesday that it has filed a notice of appeal with Ontario’s top court in respect to Justice Donald Taliano’s April 11 ruling.

The appeal states that Taliano made critical errors in law by declaring the federal medical marijuana program unconstitutional.

Taliano ordered that Ottawa fix the program by July or face the prospect of effectively legalizing marijuana.

The judge’s decision came in a criminal case involving Matthew Mernagh, 37, of St. Catharines, who was unable to obtain a medical marijuana licence.

Mernagh’s lawyer, Paul Lewin, has said that he’s confident the decision will be upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Mernagh, who suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis, seizures and depression, began to grow his own pot and was eventually charged with producing the drug.

In a ruling released last week, Taliano says sick people cannot get access to medical marijuana through appropriate means and must resort to illegal actions such as growing their own supply.

As a result, ill people who should be able to get the drugs are branded as criminals, the decision said.

The St. Catharines justice declared the program to be invalid, as well as the laws prohibiting possession and production of cannabis, since they can be used to criminally charge medical users unable to get the drugs through legal avenues.

Taliano found that doctors across the country widely ignored Health Canada’s medical marijuana program and refused to sign off on forms that allow sick people to legally obtain cannabis.

Mernagh has been granted an exemption that allows him to smoke and grow cannabis.

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