Dried marijuana is no longer the only legal option available to approved medical marijuana patients.

Dried marijuana is no longer the only legal option available to approved medical marijuana patients.

Right to pot cookies upheld by high court

Supreme Court of Canada rules legal medical marijuana access extends to cannabis derivatives such as pot brownies, tea or oils

Medical marijuana patients have a right to possess and use cannabis in the form of cookies and products other than dried bud, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday.

The unanimous decision is a major victory for cannabis crusaders who argued they should not be forced only to smoke or vaporize the drug when edible or topical products are safer and provide benefits such as delayed delivery.

“Inhaling marihuana can present health risks and is less effective for some conditions than administration of cannabis derivatives,” the country’s high court ruled.

It found the federal drug law exemption allowing medical pot patients access only to dried marijuana violated their constitutional right to life, liberty and security of the person.

Approved patients who illegally baked cookies, brewed pot tea or turned it into oil had faced the threat of criminal prosecution, but not any longer.

“This denial is not trivial,” the court ruled. “It subjects the person to the risk of cancer and bronchial infections associated with smoking dry marihuana, and precludes the possibility of choosing a more effective treatment.”

The ruling upholds the decision by B.C. courts that dismissed drug trafficking charges against Owen Smith, a Victoria man caught baking pot cookies for a local compassion club.

“It’s a great decision from the point of view of all medically approved patients,” said Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy, one of the lawyers who defended Smith before the Supreme Court.

He said the government’s dried-only restriction was unreasonable.

“It forced people to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one.”

Conroy is optimistic the Supreme Court’s ruling will also guide another pending case in which medical marijuana patients have argued before a Federal Court judge that they should be allowed to continue growing their own pot at home, instead of buying only from new commercial producers authorized by Ottawa.

In that case as well, Conroy and co-counsel Kirk Tousaw argued similar constitutional rights are in play – that medical marijuana users are deprived reasonable access if they can’t afford to buy from commercial producers and that they  then risk jail if they grow it themselves or buy on the black market.

That trial took place this spring and the judge has reserved decision.

Conroy predicts Thursday’s ruling may also allow commercial producers to start offering cannabis edibles and topicals, rather than just dried pot.

The Supreme Court did not give the federal government time to pass new regulations and instead issued an immediate order that the old restriction was no longer in force.

It’s not yet clear how Ottawa will respond, but it could regulate pot derivatives through a different mechanism.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose told reporters marijuana is not an approved medicine and criticized the ruling for contributing to the normalization of marijuana use.

“I’m outraged by the message that judges are sending that they think that they can approve a drug into a medicine without clear medical scientific evidence and without safety reviews,” Ambrose said.

She cited 36 cases of people being hospitalized after becoming ill from ingesting marijuana edibles at Vancouver’s recent 4/20 pot celebration.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

The two suspects arrested south of 150 Mile House Tuesday, March 2, following a high-speed chase with the RCMP have been charged. (Will Roberts photo)
High-speed chase suspects charged, remain in custody after arrest south of Williams Lake

John Craig and Maggie M. Higgott appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court March 4

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Many members of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club (pictured) have teamed up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society to host a free ski in celebration of World Water Day. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Conservation society, cross country ski club, celebrate World Water Day with free ski March 6

The free ski will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Bull Mountain

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read