Ontario high court upholds Canada ban on marijuana

[JURIST] The top court in Ontario on Friday upheld [judgment] Canada's general ban on marijuana, reversing a lower court decision which held that the nation's marijuana laws were unconstitutional [JURIST report]. The Court of Appeal for Ontario [official website] held [Ottawa Citizen report] that although a total ban on the use of medicinal marijuana would be unconstitutional, serious illness does not create an automatic right to use marijuana. 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) [texts] as insufficient mechanisms for licensing marijuana. The Court of Appeal ruled that the trial judge erred in his finding that Canada's laws made it nearly impossible for patients to obtain medicinal marijuana: "[O]n a reasonable reading of the evidence, there is no support for the findings that doctors have massively boycotted the MMAR, or that the vast majority of persons seeking to and entitled to receive medical exemptions under the MMAR are unable to obtain those exemptions." The case concerned a man named Matthew Mernagh who was charged under the CDSA with growing his own marijuana after being unable to obtain a medical exemption for the drug.

Marijuana [JURIST news archive] has been a hot-button issue in the US and abroad. Last week the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act [text]. In December an Arizona judge ruled [JURIST report] that Arizona's medical marijuana law is constitutional and instructed the state to permit dispensaries to open. In November lawmakers in Uruguay proposed legislation [JURIST report] for state-regulated marijuana. In the US elections in November, Washington and Colorado legalized the drug [JURIST report]. The Colorado initiative [Amendment 64, PDF] introduces an amendment to the state constitution, allowing adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce and privately grow up to six plants, although public use will be banned. In Oregon the Cannabis Tax Act Initiative [Measure 80, PDF] failed by approximately 55-to-45 percent [Examiner.com report] of the vote. Medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts for the first time as over 60 percent of voters approved Question 3 [Petition 11-11, PDF], an indirect initiated statute that will allow marijuana use by patients [Harvard Crimson report] with "debilitating medical conditions" and create 35 medical marijuana dispensaries.

 

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