Toronto Cops Arrest Legal Medical Marijuana User Matt Mernagh for Pot Possession

CANNABIS CULTURE – Yes you read the headline correctly: Last night Toronto police arrested legal medical marijuana user Matt Mernagh, a well-known activist currently fighting a pivotal court battle over patients’ access to pot, for possession of the drug.

UPDATE: Mernagh has been released by police and all charges have been dropped. See below for more updates.

Mernagh (who is host of The Mernahuana Show and Mernagh Grows Marijuana on Pot TV) was arrested on July 3 at about 9:30 PM at Toronto’s Yonge Dundas Square, where he and friends had gathered to watch the classic stoner film Dazed and Confused during a City Cinema public showing.

Upon arriving at the venue in Toronto’s downtown public square, Mernagh and his group were informed the movie had been canceled “due to weather.” This confirmed a Twitter post from Yonge Dundas Square earlier in the day announcing the cancelation.

Mernagh, who uses cannabis to relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, scoliosis and epileptic seizures, won a case in Ontario Superior Court in April 2011 where the judge found that doctors’ “overwhelming refusal to participate in the medicinal marijuana program completely undermines the effectiveness of the program” and that “the requirement for a medical doctor’s declaration has rendered the MMAR unconstitutional”. Mernagh had been arrested for growing his own pot plants without a licence, but argued in court that he had tried and failed to get one because his doctors refused to sign the paperwork.

The government appealed the case, sending Mernagh back to court in May of 2012, and judges are expected to make a decision sometime soon.

Though Mernagh was given a legal right to use marijuana as medicine by the court, he lacks the normal Health Canada licence and paperwork.

As Mernagh and other legal medical marijuana users contemplated the cancelation and hit the bong, a security guard approached and told the group they weren’t allowed to smoke marijuana in the city square. When Mernagh protested that others were allowed to smoke cigarettes without getting harassed and that he had a legal right to his medicine, the police were called to the scene. An officer told the group they were on “private property” and were being told to exit the city square.

“You can leave and do it, but not on this property,” an officer identified by his name tag as M. Josifovic said. “It’s up to the management here.”

When Mernagh argued that Yonge Dundas Square “is actually public property that is managed by a private service” and refused to leave, police surrounded him and put him in handcuffs.

“Sir you are under arrest for possession of marijuana,” an officer said as the cuffs were snapped on and Mernagh was taken away (watch at 1:35 in the video clip below or watch a video of the entire incident).

Hours after the arrest Toronto Hash Mob activists spoke with Toronto Police 52 Division and were told that Mernagh had actually been charged with trespassing, not marijuana possession.

Mernagh was held overnight and is due in court today at 10am (Old City Hall, Room 101).

UPDATE: 10:11AM Eastern

Hash Mob activist Chris Goodwin reports that Mernagh’s lawyer Paul Lewin will not be available till 2PM. This means court will be postponed till the afternoon session. It also means Mernagh will remain locked up till then.

UPDATE: 11:30AM

I spoke with Constable Wendy Drummond of the Toronto Police’s media dept and she verified that Matt has been charged with BOTH possession and trespassing. She promised to get back to me with more information about how (or if) a legal medical marijuana user can be charged with marijuana possession, and if other legal users will be targeted for removal or arrest for medicating in Yonge Dundas Square.

UPDATE: 11:55AM

Credible sources at the Old City Hall court say the possession charge will likely be dropped, leaving just the trespassing charge, but I have not been able to independently verify this info.

UPDATE: 4:30 PM

After spending the night in jail and waiting for court, Mernagh was released at about 1 PM and all charges were dropped. The marijuana possession charge was withdrawn first, but it took some time before the trespassing charge was withdrawn. Police did not return Mernagh’s custom RooR bong and about a half-ounce of Lilac Kush, but he was advised by the judge to ask for them back.

“It was a weird and crazy one, that’s for sure,” Mernagh told Cannabis Culture in a telephone interview this afternoon. “We are definitely going to launch a lawsuit against them – not for the money, but on principle.”

Mernagh described the police lock-up as “pretty rough” and said that cops “were acting like dicks” to him – and that he witnessed other inmates smoking crack in the jail cells.

After being released, Mernagh and a few friends went directly to Yonge Dundas Square to medicate. Though he openly smoked marijuana, he was not asked to leave by security or police.

Mernagh said he plans to attend future events at the city square and isn’t afraid to take his medication openly.

“The City of Toronto shows movies there every Tuesday night,” he said. “I’m a citizen of Toronto and I intend to go.”

Mernagh will be my guest on Cannabis Culture News LIVE this Friday to discuss the details of his imprisonment and future plans.

Watch a Pot TV video (originally LIVE) made by Mernagh upon his release from jail:

Watch for more updates on Matt Mernagh on Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.

Comments

63 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    I don’t think you really realize how absolutely ridiculous, unreasonable and moralizing you’re being. Here is how reality is:
    Matt Mernagh is legally allowed to smoke marijuana in public spaces, though it may be rude to hit bong in such a public place as Dundas Square, he was fully within his legal rights.

    The Police wrongfully arrested and detained him, citing both false legal charges of trespassing and possession of an otherwise illegal substance that he is allowed to possess, though it’s quite obvious he was arrested for questioning their authority.

    I don’t know about you, but I actually care about my freedoms as a human being and I’m not about to excuse the cops for shit like this. I don’t want to live in a world where people get arrested because of what they choose to ingest, I want to live in a world where if a cop decides to harass, violently assault or detain someone without cause, he is unable to because of other citizens. Seeing a self-admitted “huge weed smoker” essentially advocate that Mernagh should have been beaten by the cops makes me think that you’re fucking brain damaged.

  2. feenix3 on

    Back talk to a cop? What country are we living in? One that the police can arrest citizens because their authority to make such an arrest is questioned?

  3. Slightly Smarter Stone on

    Dumb replies, not reply’s. Anyways, not anyway’s (although anyway is also acceptable; it seems to be regional). Learn the Anglo-Norman-Saxon, chappie!

  4. Spencer Kush on

    Mate give your head a shake. Mernagh should have leaved, you mean left. And he was a bit agresive, you mean aggressive. But the police was not, you mean were not. Good luck for him anyway, you mean, good luck to him anyway’s. Learn the English language mate!!!

  5. Todd Stinson on

    Check you Charter of Rights and Freedoms. One of the most important Canadian Documents we have a citizens. Matt was expressing his legal situation while the bull headed cops ignored the fact that he was legally within his right. Talking back is the only way to get the other pompous side to listen. Time that the Canadian police forces started hiring logical and empathetic police officers that represent the people and not a fictitious ideal held by big brother. If he had gone quietly they’d just come after you and I next. Personally I’d rather fight injustice with the freedoms this country provides, even if it means armed with only intelligence (while the other side carry the threat of deadly force) telling a civil servant what their job is, unfortunately, is a necessary reality when dealing with the personal ego of a man in a bullet proof vest with a gun on the hip. Serve & Protect, not Serve as they see fit! Keep talkin’ back Matt – I’m right there with ya brotha!! The cowards will thank you when they realize you’ve championed their freedom too. Well done!!!!

  6. Anonymous on

    TCC Member. One of the reasons it is so hard, is because of idiots who pull their bongs out in public.
    People like that usually try selling for profit as well.

  7. Anonymous on

    These guys aren’t interested in “the movement”. They’re only thinking of themselves. The main reason they smoke in public, is because “they can”.

    When the extreme potheads, who “LOVE” weed, stop putting on shows, maybe “the movement” can proceed forward.

  8. Anonymous on

    Right. So I guess if I need a pain killer, I’ll go sit at a coffee shop, crush it up and snort it. After all, it’s legal.

    I’m for legalization and I support medical marijuana, but, come on. There’s a right and wrong way to go about taking meds.

  9. TCC Member on

    My journey to be Legal

    I asked my doctor and gave him the app and the waiver he said he would look in to it. At my next appt he said he took the matter to the ethics board and was told that he would open himself up to rev can audit, and did not want that. So I went to MM.ca with with my MRI that says I have Osteoarthritis. I got doctors appt and was told that she was filing a B2 app for me because Osteoarthritis is not a B1 illness and that I may be Rejected because the doctor at the pain clinic that sent me for the MRI is not a registered specialist as required on a B2 app. 2 Months later I received notice form Health Canada to find a specialist. Its now 2 Months later I have sent out 4 referrals from my doctor and only one has responded with a refusal of the referral saying simply I can not Help this patient. I have read the transcripts all talk was about finding a Doctor to file the judge did not here anything about patients being forced to find a “specialist” when a GP has already filed your App. there is no mention in any of the cases about waiting 8 months to get a appt if you can.

    I have specialist report stating Chronic pain due to osteoarthritis and doctor has stated cannabis as a pain reliever, health Canada has denied report because doctor is not a Royal Colleges of Physicians degree. My Doctor is now trying to convince them on the merit of the specialist, and in all this I asked my Doctor about Her Contact at health Canada and if there is any Medical people there she said no, How in the heck is it Legal for a unlicenced persons to be making decisions on My HEALTH CARE.The law was struck down because patients are unable to find a Doctor to sign the app, I have 2 Doctors that are recommending cannabis.

    Just had it out with Health Canada, They are not budging Royal Colleges of Physicians degree or NO ACCSESS!!!!
    I am Just a guy in pain trying to continue to work and take care of my disabled wife and by the way it takes her 8-10 months to get a specialist. It really is a case of the compassion of medicine hitting the burecrtic brick wall.

  10. Anonymous on

    Well would you look at that….

    Released 4,20…lol

  11. Anonymous on

    lets not paint all med users with matts brush. he is a moron.
    what possible good did he think he was doing for med users? i don’t go downtown to take my morphine and he’s not challenging any laws that descriminate him due to his disability. he could have smoked it in his vehicle before walking there, or used medibles. did he try to smoke his bong in court during his trial? of course not. he thinks he is important, in his own mind.

  12. TCC Member on

    I have had the same problem, I asked my doctor and gave him the app and the waiver he said he would look in to it. At my next appt he said he took the matter to the ethics board and was told that he would open himself up to rev can audit, and did not want that. So I went to MM.ca with with my MRI that says I have Osteoarthritis. I got doctors appt and was told that she was filing a B2 app for me because Osteoarthritis is not a B1 illness and that I may be Rejected because the doctor at the pain clinic that sent me for the MRI is not a registered specialist as required on a B2 app. 2 Months later I received notice form Health Canada to find a specialist. Its now 2 Months later I have sent out 4 referrals from my doctor and only one has responded with a refusal of the referral saying simply I can not Help this patient. I have read the transcripts all the talk was about finding a Doctor to file the the app. judge did not here anything about patients being forced to find a “specialist” when a GP has already filed your App. there is no mention in any of the cases about waiting 8 months to get a appt if you can. Finally Matt If you read this and you need a affidavit post or email.

  13. gutrod on

    Cannabis is much too peaceful to be legalized, unlike alcohol & all the poison produced by pharmaceuticals. What would happen at a demonstration if all the protesters were drunk instead of stoned. Ask Vancouver.

  14. Mark Chenier on

    I do not accept the cops authority. Back talk can only be against a superior, no cop is anything but my servant and some times it is good to remind them of their place. As Matt does so well.

  15. Anonymous on

    “Forcing people to”…. what? LOL

    I didn’t realize he had them held hostage at gunpoint. I didn’t realize they couldn’t walk the fuk away. I didn’t realize everyone else where to watch a pot smoking movie would … have a real issue with it.

    I don’t smoke pot at all, it’s against my right wing ignorance. I’m one of them. But even I have to admire matt for doing the right thing.

    If you think there should be a ban for everything you disagree with, I suggest you off yourself, while the rest of us enjoy our freedom.

  16. Ganjadude on

    Hey Ballyhoo you want to talk about creating change through proper grammer, okay great. It’s not going to do you much good though sitting at home talking to yourself. You must admit you’re a closet pot-head. Come out of the closet man, go smoke in public. If someone has a problem then there’s your chance to educate, or politley ask THEM to leave. You say standing up for your rights is a bad thing because it might upset the haters. I don’t understand, who’s side are you on? Legalize now!

  17. Anonymous on

    I’d backtalk too if I was being harrassed for doing something completley legal. Way to go Matt, tell those dicks where to go.

  18. foam on

    not sure acting stupid furthers the cause

  19. Friend to man on

    First to inform you about things that have gone on in holding cells, drug use, murder, suicides, rapes, i can go on.

    You “highly doubt” the impossible, yet the impossible, is just that, impossible, you lack conviction for common sense. for the love of God.

    At what point did he become a creep in your eyes?, i´m sure everything you do in your life is satisfying to every living being, if not, you might be a creep.

    Pushing buttons is the very thing that creates change, bringing conversation to the table where people refuse to acknowledge issues and facts.

    Heis benefiting from using his meds in public,he wants his rights met, and when people have a headache they pop a pill, without any guilt.The publics responsibility is to be informed and inform their kids , the truth being that he is making a choice to medicate with marijuana. why would he hide??? you lost me.
    Do you think Harper uses good reason around marijuana? or do you think there is good reason, because you believe chidren shouldn´t see people use meds?, assuming people see things only through your eyes.
    Your even bashing the movie he wanted to see, again your opinion through your eyes, nothing more.
    You are not ready to move this to an adult realm, unless you can think like an adult.
    Fianally this was all about Matt because it was happening to Matt… Who relly needs to grow up here?
    You can have your own opinions but clearly these were not well thought or valid, as i said earlier people need to be informed , you likewise.

  20. Friend to man on

    First to inform you about things that have gone on in holding cells, drug use, murder, suicides, rapes, i can go on.

    You “highly doubt” the impossible, yet the impossible, is just that, impossible, you lack conviction for common sense. for the love of God.

    At what point did he become a creep in your eyes?, i´m sure everything you do in your life is satisfying to every living being, if not, you might be a creep.

    Pushing buttons is the very thing that creates change, bringing conversation to the table where people refuse to acknowledge issues and facts.

    Heis benefiting from using his meds in public,he wants his rights met, and when people have a headache they pop a pill, without any guilt.The publics responsibility is to be informed and inform their kids , the truth being that he is making a choice to medicate with marijuana. why would he hide??? you lost me.
    Do you think Harper uses good reason around marijuana? or do you think there is good reason, because you believe chidren shouldn´t see people use meds?, assuming people see things only through your eyes.
    Your even bashing the movie he wanted to see, again your opinion through your eyes, nothing more.
    You are not ready to move this to an adult realm, unless you can think like an adult.
    Fianally this was all about Matt because it was happening to Matt… Who relly needs to grow up here?
    You can have your own opinions but clearly these were not well thought or valid, as i said earlier people need to be informed , you likewise.

  21. Budlette on

    Actually people constantly drink out doors in front of everyone…IT’S CALLED A PATIO,most bars and restaurants downtown have them and make a killing on beer sales during the warmer months…Then there’s the free beer samples being handed out every other day,city bi-laws being altered so that special events can allow drinking in public as long as its in a plastic cup. As far as the oh no save the children excuse or condemnation goes…whats wrong with the lazy parents these days who cant take 5 minutes to educate their children on cannabis use? How it is a recognized and legal medicine for some,how it is a perfectly fine substance to use in moderation when you are of the age to be able to make those types of decision,very much like drinking. Believe it or not most grade school kids already know about weed they know about coke and crack,and who knows what other designer drug that may be out there,its up to parents and care providers to actually have an open and honest discussion with kids about drug use(this includes booze and cigs as well as the illegals)instead of ignoring the giant pink elephant in the room…Don’t blame Matt and those who toke in public settings because you don’t want to spend a few minutes educating your kid,that’s all on you

  22. The Sorcerer on

    LMAO ”theres an idle law”

    hnsod;uh8goq3wh;ohjvo;sd

    xDxDxDxD:D:D::D

  23. The Sorcerer on

    HAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mernagh… YOU ARE BOMB !!!!!

    THEY ARE SHITFUCKS!!!!

    A STAIN ON YOUR SHIRT IS THE NYPD… …~

    I watched the entire 58 min vid and now i was watching you live after the whole incident and now i get to see more of the live show < <<<< WTF???... anyway...>>>> NICELY ANALYZED…< < The activity that those f0ckers put you through... big LOL from me.. during The Live Show thats why i had to write PEACE !!!!!PS>> GET YOUR BONG BACK !!! N WEED !!!SOMEHOW???!!! :):):)

  24. Uncle-Viper on

    Impossible for inmates to smoke crack in a holding cell? I’m a former jail guard, and I’ve seen everything. Contraband can be smuggled in more often than you would realize. All it takes is for the guard or cop booking the accused in, not to search him/her or not to do a complete search.

    Why force the issue? Perhaps because prohibition has never worked and must be fought on all fronts. I’m a MMAR exemptee and I don’t need to be sent away when I need to use my medicine. Do you send Diabetics etc away to take theirs? When I need to medicate, I’m not in any condition to move without severe pain due to an advanced form of Osteo Arthritic spurs and extensive nerve damage in my neck.

    People who aren’t seriously ill, have no idea what the chronically sick have to deal with on a daily basis pain-wise, and the stigma we face from the public for our medicinal cannabis medication. Cannabis is the only medicine that brings true pain relief, and doctors are few and far between these days that will provide us with narcotics to medicate with while we are in public. My doctor gave up his triplicate RX pad years ago…but he continues to provide me with MMAR exemptions year after year.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong or immoral about medicating with the herb.

  25. The Sorcerer on

    HAHAHAHAHA, NICE ONE ! xD

  26. blindpig on

    It’s easy to see from several of the comments above that there are varying opinions on Matt’s behavior during the original confrontation. And as onlookers with busy lives we should realize that sometimes you have to push the boundries in order to set the boundries. I have no doubt that in time all of us that like to sneak a little toke now and then will all benefit greatly from the actions of guys like Matt Mernagh and Marc Emery. Perhaps we should be a little less instructive on how he should act. And for those of you that felt it necessary to insult him, the movie and the movement, why are you even looking in on this site if you feel so strongly against it? Maybe you think that we can get the laws changed by doing nothing and subtly hitting the pipe in the park where no one can see us? That’s the realm you live in not us.

  27. Dunharrow on

    As a toker, an ex cig smoker, and a parent, I have to agree with you on this one ballyhoo..

  28. Anonymous on

    No it’s more so about a cop power tripping. Matt did absolutely nothing wrong, he was completely within his rights.

    The cop was just being a dick, like the majority of them in North America.

    If anything he should have had the cuffs slapped on him for being an ignorant prick.

  29. Dave on

    First off, if you bullies are going to compare cannabis to anything it’s comparable to coffee not alcohol. Coffee and cannabis are both anti-inflammatory like medicine whereas booze is a major contributor to breast cancer and other diseases.

    The other day, at the mall food court in front of families with kids, a gentleman injected himself with his diabetes medicine; no-one called the police.

    If the LGBT Community stayed home and did not parade down their main-streets, do you think they would be looked upon as responsible loving family people by most reasonable citizens?

    Ok, so lets ban public smoke… No public or open air BBQ nor campfires. And while we’re at it, lets ban those cars and trucks, especially in crowded cities. Hell those factories are killing our kids!

    Any bully can watch and comment but it takes people with guts to bring about needed change. Keep up the good work Matt!!!

  30. Anonymous on

    I hope you mean that it’s never a good idea to arrest someone for backtalk. Canada is not supposed to be under a totalitarian regime, much as Harper seems to disagree.

  31. Rafael Begazo on

    We tend to find flaws in others that are deep insecurities about our own behavior. With that being said, you must have some personality!

  32. Anonymous on

    let me just say and in capitals FFS THEY WERE THERE TO WATCH DAZED AND CONFUSED A MOVIE WHERE PEOPLE SMOKE MORE POT THAN MOST MEDICAL USERS SMOKE IN A LIFE TIME. If thewy didn’t want to see people smoking weed they should have left the area as the movie that was supposed to be screened was far more offensive than seeing someone using medicine ever could have been.

  33. Rider on

    I don’t think that Matt is doing the cannabis community any favors by smoking a bong in a public place. Those who already fear it’s legalization now have a concern about their kids seeing people smoking bongs in public. He’s the key figure on the medical front right now and this stunt just confirms the concern that medical marijuana patients treat their “medicine” flippantly. If cannabis is ever legalized it will be at least as restricted as alcohol, which is not tollerated outside in public.

  34. Anonymous on

    I have several reasons why I don’t use my meds in public, including: it’s wrong to have others breathe in your meds, completely wrong, just as I don’t like to see alcohol consumed in public places, children need to have adults acting like adults.

    What is it that some are trying to prove, just because you can does not mean you should.

  35. Anonymous on

    You can get arrested for talking back? Maybe that’s why my mom told me not to do it.

  36. BigBudAl on

    Well I think drinking in public should be banned.
    Arrest those booze junkies and let the people medicate

  37. Anonymous on

    The trespassing charges are crap… I take it he was asked to leave because of his disability . And after feeling discriminated , who wouldn’t talk back. Matt for the win… Again

  38. Anonymous on

    I also do think smoking in public is a bad health & respect idea. We could vaporize, eat a cookie, drink a tincture, etc.

  39. Anonymous on

    Mernagh should have leaved… and he was a bit agresive, but the police was not.

    … good luck for him anyway.

  40. Anonymous on

    i agree…matt comes off an attotude and as a know it all…Anyways he’ll have the night to think about it. i believe smoling up in public should be made illegal…not jus marijuana every thing that is smokable….Nothing like coming home smelling like smoke….i’m for legalization but with restrictions…

  41. Anonymous on

    Really this was not an arrest about marijuana it was an arrest about backtalk
    to a cop. not bright idea at the best of times.