CANNABIS CULTURE – The Supreme Court of Canada will hand down its decision in the trial of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, on Thursday, June 11.
This is the first time the highest court in the land has ruled on a medical cannabis case. A press conference will be held Thursday morning at the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, 826 Johnsons St, at 11am to explain how this decision will impact the distribution of cannabis as medicine.
In Dec 2009, Owen was arrested making cookies for patients of the VCBC and was charged with possession for the purposes of trafficking THC, the most active chemical in the cannabis plant.
Since the beginning of its medical cannabis programs, Health Canada has given patients an authorization to possess and grow cannabis for medical reasons, but has prohibited them from extracting the resins or other active chemicals by making tea, hash or butter to make cookies. For many patients, especially children and the elderly, using cannabis extracts is the only reasonable method of ingestion.
Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, with the help of expert witness Dr. David Pate and four patient witnesses, convinced a Supreme Court of B.C. judge that the laws were unconstitutional because they violate a patients security of the person for no valid purpose. In a 2-1 decision last year, the BC Court of Appeal agreed, while affirming the concept that no one can be convicted on an unconstitutional law, even if the violation does not affect them directly. Unwilling to accept defeat on this matter, the federal government appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
A video of the SCC hearing is available below. It seems clear from the questions of the esteemed judges that the government’s position that smoked cannabis is safer because it has been studied more. While it is unclear what remedy the high court may try and steer the federal government towards, many are convinced this decision will change the direction of the medical cannabis industry in Canada by allowing a broad range of new products to become available.