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Canada’s old marijuana laws declared invalid, unconstitutional

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An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that the federal medical marijuana program is unconstitutional, giving the government three months to fix the problem before pot is effectively legalized.

In an April 11 ruling, Justice Donald Taliano found that doctors across the country have “massively boycotted” the medical marijuana program and largely refuse to sign off on forms giving sick people access to necessary medication. As a result, legitimately sick people cannot access medical marijuana through appropriate means and must resort to illegal actions…

The judge’s decision comes in a criminal case involving Matthew Mernagh, 37, of St. Catharines who suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis, seizures and depression.

Marijuana is the most effective treatment of Mernagh’s pain. But despite years of effort, he has been unable to find a doctor to support his application for a medical marijuana licence. Mernagh resorted to growing his own cannabis and was charged with producing the drug.

Taliano found doctors essentially act as gatekeepers to the medical marijuana program but lack the necessary knowledge to adequately give advice or recommend the drug. He also found that Health Canada has made “no real attempt to deal with this lack of knowledge…”

“The body of evidence from Mr. Mernagh and the other patient witnesses is troubling,” Taliano wrote. “The evidence of the patient witnesses, which I accept, showed that patients have to go to extraordinary lengths to acquire the marijuana they need.”

Lawyer Alan Young, a longtime advocate of marijuana legalization, said the ruling is a step in the right direction.

It’s significant because it’s a Superior Court ruling which has binding effect across the province,” Young said.

“By enacting a dysfunctional medical program the government now has to pay the high cost of losing the constitutional authority to criminalize marijuana.”

Surprising to me that there isn’t even a significant minority of physicians in Canada with the gumption to support medical marijuana programs. Silly statements about insufficient evidence means they’re only reading their own studies. In the United States, in Europe, there are beaucoup studies from reputable peer-reviewed sources that support a range of symptoms and syndromes that are ameliorated by cannabis.

Meanwhile, as Alan Young said, the ruling has put the government in the situation of having no Plan B to deal with rejection of their outdated laws.

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 14, 2011 at 6:00 am

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