A St. Catharines man who came close to changing Canada’s medical marijuana laws before an Ontario court upheld them earlier this month plans to take his case to the Supreme Court.
“We got the ball rolling, kept rolling it,” said Matthew Mernagh, 39, outside a courtroom in St. Catharines Tuesday. “It’s way bigger than me. I’m kind of here for the ride.”
Mernagh was in court Tuesday after his 2008 marijuana production charge was tossed back to the trial courts by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Mernagh was charged in April 2008 after Niagara Regional Police found 70 pot plants in his apartment.
He claimed he needed marijuana to help ease symptoms of fibromyalgia, scoliosis and a seizure disorder, but was unable to get a doctor to sign a medical declaration.
The declarations are required under Canadian law in order to possess or produce marijuana for medical purposes.
St. Catharines Superior Court Judge Donald Taliano sided with Mernagh, finding in April 2011 that Canada’s medical marijuana program failed to give legal access to sick people who need the drug largely because family doctors refuse to endorse the paperwork.
He also stayed the charges against Mernagh.
The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the decision on Feb. 1, finding the trial judge erred in finding medical exemptions are practically unavailable. It quashed the decision and ordered a new trial.
Mernagh appeared in court Tuesday with a letter from his lawyer Paul Lewin, requesting the case be adjourned while they seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Lewin said patients with severe illnesses should be entitled to medical marijuana, but many doctors aren’t comfortable signing declarations for something that’s not an approved drug.
“There’s a lot of hostility and distrust by the medical community towards medical marijuana,” he said.
Mernagh said he couldn’t find a family doctor in St. Catharines and trying to get a doctor at a walk-in clinic to sign a declaration was impossible.
“It was way easier to grow than to find a family doctor,” he said. “It’s an unusual problem to have. The program was designed to fail.”
The court battle has thrust Mernagh into the spotlight as a medical marijuana crusader. He has a webcast in Toronto on Pot TV and gets daily e-mails from people looking for legal help.
– Read the entire article at Toronto Sun.