Pot Ruling Appeal Expected
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Author: Shannon Kari, Southam News
Published: Monday, February 10, 2003
Copyright: 2003 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Contact: [email protected]
Feds may oppose Ontario court finding. Judge found medical marijuana regulations violated Canada's Charter of Rights.
The federal government is today expected to file a last-minute appeal of an Ontario Superior Court decision that found Health Canada's medical marijuana regulations to be unconstitutional.
Health Canada has until the end of the day to appeal a Jan. 9 ruling by Justice Sidney Lederman.
The experienced Superior Court judge ruled that the existing Marijuana Medical Access Regulations violated the Charter of Rights because there is no legal source of marijuana for people with medical exemptions.
"Laws which put seriously ill, vulnerable people in a position where they have to deal with the criminal underworld to obtain medicine they have been authorized to take, violate the constitutional right to security of the person," wrote Lederman.
The judge found the regulations to be of "no force and effect." But he suspended his order for six months to give the federal government time to "provide for a legal source and supply of the drug."
Health Canada signed a five-year, $5.7-million contract with Prairie Plant Systems Inc. more than two years ago to grow marijuana. None of the marijuana produced under that contract has been distributed for medical purposes.
The federal government argued during the Ontario Superior Court hearing last fall that the Prairie Plant marijuana was always intended only for research use.
In his ruling, Lederman referred to a Dec. 21, 2000 news release and noted that the health minister at the time, Allan Rock, said that some of the marijuana would be distributed "to authorized Canadians using it for medical purposes."
The federal government "has always come to the table kicking and screaming" on this issue, said Young. "The fact that they have spent millions of dollars to grow pot and do nothing with it is representative of their attitude."
If Health Canada does file an appeal, the legal debate will shift to the same court that first delivered a major blow to the federal government's marijuana possession laws.
In July 2000, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the complete prohibition against possession of marijuana, without an exception for medical use, was unconstitutional.
It was the Court of Appeal's ruling that required the federal government to draft the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations that were ruled invalid last month.
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