The B.C. Court of Appeal delivered an important ruling yesterday when it found that restrictions placed on the manner in which medical cannabis can be used were unconstitutional. The case dates back to 2009, and concerns a man charged with trafficking after he produced marijuana cookies and topical cannabis creams for a medical marijuana club in Victoria.
The case predates the coming into force of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations in April, but the ruling would seem to be applicable to it as well. That’s because under MMPR patients who receive a prescription from a doctor to use cannabis are limited to purchasing dried cannabis.
Research done by medical cannabis advocates, though, has shown that smoking dried cannabis isn’t the only way to obtain medical benefits. Rather, edible products, creams, tinctures and other cannabis off-shoots can also provide patients with relief. Indeed, in some instances, depending on the patient’s circumstances, they provide superior results to simply smoking or vaporizing the herb.
By a 2-1 majority the justices who heard the case, which resulted in charges being dismissed against the man, gave the federal government one year to amend the regulations to permit the consumption of other cannabis products beyond dried cannabis.
Whether the Harper government will comply is another matter. Heading into the October 2015 election, the Conservatives seem determined to use marijuana (be it for medical or recreational use) as a wedge issue to inflame their base. In recent months several Conservative MPs have distributed bullshit brochures in their ridings warning that Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who has come out in favour of legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol and cigarettes, wants to make marijuana available to children.
Of course, Trudeau’s position, which is also largely supported by the federal NDP, would do no such thing. Instead, by decriminalizing marijuana and developing a regulatory framework, the black market for marijuana would dry up, organized crime would be deprived of a lucrative cash cow, billions in police, court, and prison costs would be saved, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians would no longer be subjected to criminal sanction for doing something that is already legal in two American states: Colorado and Washington.
In the U.S., an additional 20 states permit the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Here in Harperland, though, Veteran Affairs announced recently that it was considering capping the benefits it provides to veterans who use cannabis for relief of pain, PTSD and other combat-related conditions. As well, Health Canada has apparently approached three doctors groups (the Canadian Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada) to enlist their aid in an anti-marijuana advertising campaign that would have obvious partisan political overtones and would compromise the integrity of the above-noted organizations.
Given that integrity is largely an unknown concept to the Harper government, that’s not surprising. Instead, the Conservatives seem determined to put ideology ahead of the health and well-being of tens of thousands of Canadians who currently use cannabis for medical purposes, and pursue an asinine “tough on drugs/crime” policy that has proven to be a disastrous failure in the United States and the rest of the Western world.