Ontario's top court upholds Canadian cannabis ban

Posted on February 3rd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

CanadaOntario's high court on Feb. 1 upheld Canada's general ban on cannabis, overturning a lower court decision that found the nation's marijuana laws unconstitutional. The Court of Appeal for Ontario held that while a total ban on use of medical marijuana would be unconstitutional, serious illness does not create an automatic right to use cannabis. The Court of Appeal overruled a trial court decision that struck down parts of Canada's Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). The Court of Appeal ruled that the lower court erred in its finding that Canadian law made it nearly impossible for patients to obtain medicinal marijuana. The case concerned Matthew Mernagh, who was charged under the CDSA with growing his own cannabis after failure to obtain a medical exemption.

The Court of Appeal  also found the lower court was wrong to interpret an earlier ruling as creating a constitutional right to use medical marijuana.  "Given that marijuana can medically benefit some individuals, a blanket criminal prohibition on its use is unconstitutional," the appeal court said.  However, "this court did not hold that serious illness gives rise to an automatic right to use marijuana." Doctors are allowed to exempt patients from the marijuana laws, but many physicians have refused to do so. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network protested the decision.  "Allowing the current regulations to stand unchanged will leave many people with serious health conditions without effective access to legal authorization to use cannabis as medicine," said Richard Elliott, the network's executive director. (Jurist, Feb. 2; Canadian Press, Feb. 1)

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