Judge dismisses bid for extension on medical marijuana changes

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has dismissed a Crown application asking for more time to make amendments to medical marijuana regulations.

Last year, Justice Robert Johnston struck down a section of Health Canada’s Marijuana Medical Access Regulations. He ruled that the restriction to dried marijuana was unconstitutional because it breached Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Johnston’s April 12, 2012, ruling meant that patients authorized to use medical marijuana could make cannabis-infused oils, sip it in their tea or bake it in their brownies.

Health Canada asked the court for one year to respond to the ruling. Johnston agreed, but said the suspension would not affect those authorized to used medical marijuana.

Johnston’s decision Friday not to grant an extension means designated producers are now entitled to make derivatives, edibles and resin for their authorized patients, said Kirk Tousaw.

The defence lawyer led the constitutional challenge on behalf of Owen Smith, the head baker of the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada. Smith was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking for baking pot cookies and producing topical cannabis creams for a medical marijuana club in Victoria in 2009.

Tousaw argued the laws were unconstitutional and arbitrary and did not further the government’s interest in protecting the health and safety of the public. Instead, they forced the critically and chronically ill to smoke medical marijuana, which was potentially harmful.

In court Friday, Tousaw argued that the government has taken no action in the past year to respond to Johnston’s ruling.

“Their entire demeanour and response to court rulings over the last decade has been close to contemptuous,” he said.

Johnston said there was little pretense the Crown’s application was an attempt to preserve the status quo until the B.C. Court of Appeal hears the case on Oct. 17.

He said he would proceed on the basis that he made the right decision.

“The Court of Appeal will deal with this on Oct. 17. It is not possible to predict what they will do with it,” he said.

Outside court, Gayle Quin and Ted Smith, proprietor of the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada, were elated.

“You don’t get a lot of wins in this world,” Smith said. “I’ve seen a lot of people suffer without this medicine. This decision here today will mean a lot to patients who use these derivatives.”

The Crown could not comment on whether it would appeal Johnston’s latest decision.

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