June 10, 2015
For immediate release
Ottawa – Tomorrow, the Supreme Court of Canada will issue its judgment in R. v. Smith, which concerns the scope of access to medical marijuana products under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (“MMAR”). Under the MMAR, patients are only legally permitted to access “dried marihuana” for treatment purposes. This means that ingestion is limited to smoking or vapourizing the marijuana – oral ingestion through capsules or food is prohibited. Among the issues being considered by the Court is whether this restriction is constitutional. The BCCLA is an intervener in this case.
Owen Smith worked for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, which produces, among other things, edible marijuana products. He was arrested and charged for producing baked goods containing marijuana, in violation of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. At trial, Mr. Smith challenged the constitutionality of the MMAR’s restriction to dried marijuana. The BC Supreme Court found that the restriction violated s. 7 Charter rights of medical marijuana patients, and Mr. Smith was acquitted of the charges against him. The BC Court of Appeal upheld the finding of unconstitutionality. The Supreme Court of Canada is now hearing the government’s appeal.
The BCCLA argued that the criminalization of modes of ingestion of medical marijuana infringes the liberty interest protected by s. 7 of the Charter. Medical autonomy should be conceived broadly to include not only amelioration of injury or illness, but also non-trivial enhancement, maintenance and preservation of health or well-being. The choice of individuals to use what they experience as the most efficacious mode of ingesting a medication is a non-trivial choice, and restricting that choice infringes the right to liberty.
The BCCLA is represented by Jason Gratl of Gratl & Company.
The BCCLA’s argument in this case is available here.
What: Supreme Court of Canada to render judgment in R. v. Smith
When: Decision will be issued on Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 9:45 a.m. (EDT) / 6:45 a.m. (PDT)
Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)
Who: Representatives of the BCCLA available for comment
Jason Gratl, lawyer for the BCCLA: (604) 317-1919 (Vancouver)
Micheal Vonn, BCCLA Policy Director: (604) 630-9753 (Vancouver)