Dried marijuana is no longer the only legal option available to approved medical marijuana patients.

Right to pot cookies upheld by high court

Supreme Court of Canada rules legal medical marijuana access extends to cannabis derivatives such as pot brownies, tea or oils

Medical marijuana patients have a right to possess and use cannabis in the form of cookies and products other than dried bud, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday.

The unanimous decision is a major victory for cannabis crusaders who argued they should not be forced only to smoke or vaporize the drug when edible or topical products are safer and provide benefits such as delayed delivery.

“Inhaling marihuana can present health risks and is less effective for some conditions than administration of cannabis derivatives,” the country’s high court ruled.

It found the federal drug law exemption allowing medical pot patients access only to dried marijuana violated their constitutional right to life, liberty and security of the person.

Approved patients who illegally baked cookies, brewed pot tea or turned it into oil had faced the threat of criminal prosecution, but not any longer.

“This denial is not trivial,” the court ruled. “It subjects the person to the risk of cancer and bronchial infections associated with smoking dry marihuana, and precludes the possibility of choosing a more effective treatment.”

The ruling upholds the decision by B.C. courts that dismissed drug trafficking charges against Owen Smith, a Victoria man caught baking pot cookies for a local compassion club.

“It’s a great decision from the point of view of all medically approved patients,” said Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy, one of the lawyers who defended Smith before the Supreme Court.

He said the government’s dried-only restriction was unreasonable.

“It forced people to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one.”

Conroy is optimistic the Supreme Court’s ruling will also guide another pending case in which medical marijuana patients have argued before a Federal Court judge that they should be allowed to continue growing their own pot at home, instead of buying only from new commercial producers authorized by Ottawa.

In that case as well, Conroy and co-counsel Kirk Tousaw argued similar constitutional rights are in play – that medical marijuana users are deprived reasonable access if they can’t afford to buy from commercial producers and that they  then risk jail if they grow it themselves or buy on the black market.

That trial took place this spring and the judge has reserved decision.

Conroy predicts Thursday’s ruling may also allow commercial producers to start offering cannabis edibles and topicals, rather than just dried pot.

The Supreme Court did not give the federal government time to pass new regulations and instead issued an immediate order that the old restriction was no longer in force.

It’s not yet clear how Ottawa will respond, but it could regulate pot derivatives through a different mechanism.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose told reporters marijuana is not an approved medicine and criticized the ruling for contributing to the normalization of marijuana use.

“I’m outraged by the message that judges are sending that they think that they can approve a drug into a medicine without clear medical scientific evidence and without safety reviews,” Ambrose said.

She cited 36 cases of people being hospitalized after becoming ill from ingesting marijuana edibles at Vancouver’s recent 4/20 pot celebration.

Just Posted

Drivers’ bad habits on Port Alberni RCMP’s radar

Seatbelt, cellphone violations handed out in distracted driving campaign

City of Port Alberni takes over McLean Mill pond project

Alberni Valley Enhancement Society received grant for work that went sideways

Vancouver Island pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Port Alberni cyclist collides with passing car

Cyclist received minor injuries

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations receive grants to bring ancestors’ remains home

Grants are part of the Royal B.C. Museum’s new repatriation program

AFN national chief suggests moving Trans Mountain pipeline route

Perry Bellegarde said many Indigenous communities believe in the need to diversify export markets

U.S. worker charged after video shows him spitting on cusomer’s pizza

Jaylon Kerley of Detroit is charged with a felony count of food law violations

Andrew Weaver congratulates New Brunswick on electing first Green caucus

Election win means there are now three provincial Green Party caucuses in Canada

Around the BCHL: Merritt’s Matthew Kopperud nets Sun Devil scholarship

Around the BCHL is a look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

Father, 9-year-old son killed in crash along B.C. highway

RCMP say family of five was hit head-on by a pickup truck north of Williams Lake

2 B.C. police departments won’t use new saliva test to detect high drivers

The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is designed to find THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Trudeau looks to restart Canada’s UN charm offensive in New York City

Freeland says the question of job retraining in the 21st century — and the uncertainty that surrounds it — is the federal government’s central preoccupation.

Most Read