The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] unanimously ruled [judgment] Thursday that a law restricting the medical use of marijuana to smoking the dried plant was unconstitutional. Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act [text], smoking marijuana for medical purposes was permitted, but uses of the plant’s extracts in other forms such as in topical applications or food were not. The court held that using alternative forms of marijuana may be “medically reasonable” and that limiting use to smoking would pose an arbitrary risk to users. For both reasons, the court found the restriction to violate Section 7 [text] of the country’s constitution.
The legal use and sale [JURIST backgrounder] of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes has created controversy in both the US and Canada. Earlier this month, the Louisiana House of Representatives approved [JURIST report] a medical marijuana bill. In May the Pennsylvania Senate approved [JURIST report] a similar medical marijuana bill that would allow medical marijuana products to be grown by licensed cultivation facilities and distributed through state-regulated dispensaries. Also in May Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed [JURIST report] an executive order legalizing medical marijuana. In 2013, the top court in Ontario upheld Canada’s general ban on marijuana, reversing a lower court decision that held the nation’s marijuana laws were unconstitutional [JURIST reports].