B.C. Court Rules Medical Marijuana Program Unconstitutional

Former NDP candidate Dana Larsen has opened a medical marijuana dispensary in Vancouver. (Photograph by Bill Keay/Canwest News)Former NDP candidate Dana Larsen has opened a medical marijuana dispensary in Vancouver. (Photograph by Bill Keay/Canwest News)A B.C. Supreme Court justice has endorsed a recent federal court decision saying the national marijuana program is unconstitutional.

Justice Marvyn Koenigsberg gave Ottawa a year to fix the medical-marijuana access regulations so compassion clubs or producers can get together and run a common marijuana-growing operation.

At the moment, the federal government restricts any licensed grower to supplying only one licensed user and prohibits more than three growers from pooling resources.

Both those restrictions are unconstitutional, Koenigsberg said.

Although she ruled the regulations are constitutionally wanting, she also found Mathew Beren of Victoria guilty of illegally trafficking and producing marijuana. But she gave him an absolute discharge.

A 35-year-old hydroponic-store owner, Beren was charged in 2004 following a raid on a research facility operated by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society.

His lawyers argued he should not be convicted because he was providing a needed service, as the marijuana regulations erected an unreasonable barrier to patients’ access to needed medication.

Justice Koenigsberg agreed, but said Beren had been selling to some people who were not authorized under the program to possess pot. And no matter how compassionate his motives, the rule of law must be respected.

“In all my years on the bench,” the veteran jurist added, “if there were ever a case for an absolute discharge, it’s this one.”

The courtroom, packed with Beren’s supporters and local pot activists, exploded in applause.

The federal court of appeal issued a judgment in October stating the marijuana-access regulations didn’t pass constitutional muster for similar reasons, and that case is being appealed by Ottawa to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Prosecutor Peter Eccles said afterwards he had no comment.

Beren, his voice cracking, said he was happy the five-year ordeal was over.

“I was facing 14 years or more in jail, of course I’m relieved,” he told reporters.

He said he knew the risks, but couldn’t stand to see sick people suffer because they couldn’t get their medicine.

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– Article from The Vancouver Sun



  1. b. ren on

    it is a good day for cannabis and cannabis lovers. setting the captives free is justice in the name of this prescious plant mj… the medicine of marijuana is finally being accepted and respected; now is the time for the government of canada to put up or shut up… i am happy for beren and the vancouver compassion society and for the cannabis culture as a whole… jah bless us all today, peace and love; b.ren

  2. AazzTunah on

    It’s best to do this thing as legally as possible – on a par with cigarettes. Over time, the market place will
    assure everyone that the best bud will become known by all and be made available whenever the user wants
    it, at a fair and reasonable price.

  3. MacDknife on

    It is not an impossible item to tax, thats a ridiculous comment. Cigarettes are taxed, not everybody smokes them. I wouldnt mind spending my money on the stuff that somebody else grows because I don’t want to have to find a field and grow, prune, tend to and dry out the plants myself.

  4. out there on

    any given person with half a brain and 1 hour of spare time every 5 days can grow as much weed as they want find a reed grass patch and plant the pay load who needs medicinal crap

    it’s never going to be legalized or de-criminalized it is an impossible item to tax because not everyone is a user so stop spending your money on the the crap someone else you don’t know grew and go do it yourself then mayby you might save some money and buy something use full..

  5. Joe and his six pack on

    The reason it is illegal the paten pharmaceutical does not want to compete with a un paten medicine. Also marijuana will one day be know as the medicine of the twentieth century.
    Marijuana the THC that it contains kills cancer this would end a 80% profit the medical establishment and that you or me could treat our self by self medicating. Also at the rate the government is destroying our health care to privatize for profit health care.
    At the same time our politician say to our health care workers that the health care is a necessary and heath care workers can not strike. On the other side of that statement we should say if it is a necessary system them you must fund it not cut it.
    Just in Ontario there will be 5000 health care workers layed off.
    But the government made shore that the well off banks got a 75 billion dollar welfare check from Mr. Harper. It looks like the emergency rooms will become in to day be seen tomorrow.
    Thank god for marijuana it is a medicine that man made can not match in making a pill to do what gods plant can do for the sick.
    This is a victory for human beings

  6. Anonymous on

    its illegal for money reasons, its all about greed with these people and there making a shit load off the MJ stock i mean its higher then lumbar and were canada for gods sake. basicly right now there feeding us bull so it stays the way it is so they keep making there goods. greedy bastards rather have money then cure ill patients…sad but true

  7. Anonymous on

    dude way to stand up for your right man, and for supporting other peoples needs, ur a hero to many.

    Great Thanks Taylor

  8. Anonymous on

    Yeah, it’s a good thing. I remember reading about another court case that found the medical marijuana program to be unconstitutional in its structure, because it didn’t allow a sufficient supply of cannabis to be grown and distributed legally (or something like that, I’m not a lawyer).

    I mean, if you’re gonna make a medicine legal to use, but illegal to procure, without providing enough of it themselves legally (or medicine of quality for that matter), that just doesn’t make sense. It forces people to buy in the black market something that they’re legally allowed to use.

    Now all they have to do is show in court that the laws against cannabis in general don’t meet the requirement of scientific backing. One of these days, they’re going to have to admit it. We all know it’s pretty much harmless, while alcohol and tobacco are dangerous, and at the same time, cannabis has obvious positive effects. Whyyyyyy the f*** is it illegal, if not to lock away all the peace-loving hippies who protest against war and social injustice?

  9. Anonymous on

    I pretty sure this is a good thing. I’m pretty sure that it is saying that Canada’s current marijuana program is unconstitutional because it doesn’t really allow patients to receive their medicine. With the bill passing, this means that the medicinal marijuana program must now be renewed or redone to allow legal patients to receive their medicine. HOPEFULLY, AMERICA WILL LEARN FROM THIS, YOU HERE ME!!!

  10. John on

    So is this a good thing? Sorry, but im kind of mis-understanding, are they saying the governments strict regulations on medical marijuana are unconstiutional, or that marijuana programs are unconstitutional?