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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

Item no 22, De-Kieviet Kindergarten class - Highlands, Starting Bid: $20
Christmas Village 2020 school auction items

The annual Christmas Village has gone virtual, here are the auction items from local schools

1913
It happened in 1913

Nov. 22 - 28: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

2020
Urban wildlife Part VI: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser throughout 2020. Part VI.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The bids for the 2020 Christmas Village are open as of noon on Thursday, November 26. Please scroll through this album to see auction items available for bidding.
Christmas Village 2020 auction items

The Christmas Village has gone virtual, here are all the details

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

Most Read