Supreme Court of Canada Ruling Expands Medical Marijuana To Include Oils, Teas, Brownies And Other Forms

The Conservative Federal Government and The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) are at odds over medical marijuana. On June 11, the Canadian high court ruled that the government's narrow definition of legal medical marijuana for Canada's more than 40,000 licensed users as only pertaining to dried herb is unconstitutional. In a unanimous decision underscored by all seven judges' names appearing on the written ruling, the SCC justices declared that prohibiting people with legitimate need for medical marijuana from employing delivery methods that avoid potential harm from smoking or vaporizing violates patients' constitutional right to liberty of the person in two ways. First, the prohibition deprives medical "marihuana" users of their liberty by imposing a threat of imprisonment for using other cannabis forms than dried weed. Secondly, the court determined that the government's stipulation limits the liberty of medical users by foreclosing reasonable medical choices through threat of criminal prosecution, and that forcing a person to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one infringes security of the person. The SCC determined in its ruling in R. v. Smith, 2015 SCC 34 that these limits are contrary to the principles of fundamental justice because they are arbitrary, with effects of the prohibition contradicting the objective of protecting Canadians' health and safety, and that evidence amply supports the lower court trial judge's conclusion that inhaling marijuana smoke can present health risks, and is a less effective medium for delivery of therapeutic cannabinoids in marijuana for some medical conditions than other forms of cannabis, and that effects of the prohibition contradict the objective of protecting health and safety.
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