Canadian Judge Strikes Down Marijuana Laws
Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, is one step closer to legalizing marijuana following a court ruling that struck down key provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, The Raw Story and the Vancouver Sun report.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Donald Taliano ruled that the regulations governing access to medical marijuana and the prohibitions detailed in Sections 4 and 7 of the act are “constitutionally invalid and of no force and effect.” Sections 4 and 7 prohibit the possession and production of the plant. Justice Taliano gave the government three months to revise medical marijuana laws. If it does not respond within that time frame, it will be legal to possess and produce pot in Ontario.
“Rather than promote health– the regulations have the opposite effect,” Taliano wrote in his decision. “Rather than promote effective drug control– the regulations drive the critically ill to the black market.”
Taliano’s ruling stemmed from the constitutional challenge of Matthew Mernagh, who suffers from several serious illnesses, including fibromyalgia, seizures and scoliosis. Mernagh relies upon medical marijuana to ease the severe pain caused by his maladies, but he’s had past difficulties obtaining the necessary doctor’s approval for medical marijuana.
“Doctors often have a great deal of difficulty with this and have in many cases blatantly outright refused to sign these forms,” Jacob Hunter, policy director for the Vancouver-based Beyond Prohibition Foundation, a pro-legalization group, told the Vancouver Sun. This reluctance on the part of doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana has led many Canadians to get the drug on the black market, which has led to many arrests.
“There are a million medical cannabis consumers in Canada and, in ten years, less than 10,000 have been able to become legal,” Hunter told Raw Story. “That just isn’t right.”
Mernagh himself was arrested in 2008 after police seized 70 marijuana plants from his home. That won’t happen again any time soon– not only did Justice Taliano issue a permanent stay of criminal charges against him, he also granted a “personal exemption” to purchase or grow marijuana during the 90 days the government has to submit its challenge.
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