Pot Illegal Again

Pot Illegal Again
Posted by CN Staff on October 08, 2003 at 09:43:34 PT
By Gillian Livingston, The Canadian Press
Source: London Free Press 
Toronto -- Possessing small amounts of pot is illegal again in Ontario after an appeal court ruling yesterday struck down parts of Ottawa's medicinal marijuana program. In striking provisions it deemed unconstitutional, the Ontario Court of Appeal sealed a legal loophole opened in January that had rendered Canada's pot-possession laws all but unenforceable.
"That little gap that we had in Ontario where the law did not exist and police could not arrest you for smoking (marijuana) is over," lawyer Alan Young said outside court.The court upheld an Ontario Superior Court ruling that patients who qualified under the program were unfairly restricted in obtaining a safe, legal supply of the drug. But it stopped short of the remedy many marijuana advocates had hoped for: striking down the law in its entirety. Instead, the three-judge panel struck down specific provisions of the federal Marijuana Medical Access Regulations to restore the plan's constitutionality. Those provisions restricted licensed growers from receiving compensation for their product, growing the drug for more than one qualified patient and pooling resources with other licensed producers. It also struck down a requirement that sick people get two doctors to validate their need to use pot as a drug. The appeal court agreed with a lower court ruling in January that deemed the government's regulations unconstitutional because they forced participants either to grow their own pot or buy it on the black market. "The interests of justice are best served by removing any uncertainty as to the constitutionality of the possession prohibition, while at the same time providing for a constitutionally acceptable medical exemption," the three-judge panel said in a written decision. "The law did not exist in the past several months because of problems with the medical program," Young explained. "(Yesterday), the court fixed the problems with the medical program, so if the medical program is operating constitutionally, then the criminal law also operates constitutionally." Warren Hitzig, founder of the Toronto Compassion Centre, which provides patients access to marijuana to ease their symptoms, said the changes could result in fewer restrictions on such facilities. "For the centres, it puts us in a very good position," Hitzig said. "The government has run out of many options and this opens up the door . . . (for the centres) to have licences to distribute out the marijuana." Toronto and provincial police officials refused to comment on the decision, saying it was still under review. In Ottawa, Health Minister Anne McLellan said she and Justice Minister Martin Cauchon will review the judgment and "determine how we're going to move forward." McLellan said she was pleased the court approved of the interim policy Ottawa introduced in July of supplying marijuana to qualified applicants to get around the constitutional issue. The fact the law remained standing left some medicinal marijuana advocates celebrating only a partial victory. Source: London Free Press (CN ON)Author: Gillian LivingstonPublished: October 8, 2003Copyright: 2003 The London Free Press Contact: letters lfpress.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Tuesday for Canadian Cannaphiles Ruling a Victory For The Ill Court Reinstates Pot Law
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