Mixed Reaction To Canada’s Supreme Court Ruling That Made Medical Marijuana Perfectly Legal In All Its Forms

By @diplomatist10 on
Medical Marijuana For Epilepsy
People wearing marijuana leaf hats gather during a rally in support of cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Chile, Santiago March 18, 2015. Reuters

In a historic judgment, Canada's Supreme Court broadened the definition of medical marijuana and ruled that its use is in all forms is perfectly legal. This will now allow users to bake marijuana into cookies or brew pot leaves for tea instead of smoking it. The ruling follows a litigation that involved a marijuana club baker who was caught on charges of drug trafficking after he was found in possession of 200 cannabis cookies.

So far, the rules had been restrictive and allowed only the use of medical marijuana in "dried" form that is derived from pot leaves meant for smoking. For many users, smoking marijuana is disoncerting and was felt harmful in the same way cigarettes are. After striking down the penal sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the apex court observed that people are being forced "to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one."

Minister Unhappy

Expressing displeasure over the Supreme Court's ruling, Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose staunchly opposed marijuana's use and reacted angrily to the decision. "Frankly, I'm outraged by the Supreme Court," she told a press conference, reports AFP. Ambrose insisted that only Health Canada has the "authority and expertise" to approve and regulate drugs. "Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which requires a rigorous safety review and clinical trials,” the minister noted.

But many agree that the Supreme Court’s ruling has brought more clarity after it struck down Harper government’s curbs on medical marijuana after calling it violative of the right “to life, liberty and security of the person.”  Thanks to the court verdict, penal provisions under Sections 4 and 5 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act that prohibited possession and trafficking of non-dried forms of cannabis will no longer be valid. Owen Smith, the respondent called it "a very emotional day." I'm proud and really happy today for all those people who are going to benefit from this ruling," he said at a press conference in Victoria, B.C, reports CBC News.

Ruling Hailed

In a way, the apex court’s decision is an endorsement of some previous rulings in lower courts especially in British Columbia, which also said insistence on using the dried form of marijuana is against a person's right to consume it in the form they wanted.  

"It's positive — it's a great thing for patients ... and people who need extracts who can't smoke their cannabis or don't even want to in the first place," said David-George Oldham, founder of ARC, a consortium of cannabis patients, doctors, activists and chemists.

(For feedback/comments, contact the writer at k.kumar@ibtimes.com.au)