There’s lots of confusion about yesterday’s Ontario Court of Appeals that sought to clarify the Canadian government’s Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), as well as whether possession of marijuana is generically legal.
The ruling dealt with a consolidation of several cases involving medical marijuana issues and Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Conflicting media reports and some commentators have muddied the waters in regards to the decision, but cautious experts like legendary Canadian human rights/marijuana attorney John Conroy warned that the ruling is complex and that the court’s actions cannot be viewed as a final resolution of the issues raised in the various cases the court ruled on.
“Federal officials along with federal government agencies will have to look at this ruling and perform actions that seek to conform to it and implement it,” Conroy explained. Conroy said his initial scrutiny of the court’s ruling indicates with certainty that marijuana possession by non-medical users is illegal. Another certainty is that the court has made it easier for medical patients who want government permission to possess marijuana, by removing the requirement that patients find a “second specialist physician” who will back the idea that the patient needs marijuana as a medicine. Under the new ruling, Conroy says, patients will only have to consult one doctor.
Beyond that, Conroy says, much of what the court ruled should be considered as the foundation for further regulations and implementation, rather than as final answers.
The nuances that Conroy mentions are not such good news for Health Canada licensed growers like medpot patient MoRee, who says initial news reports about the ruling led him to believe licensed growers could grow for one or more patients, and be compensated.
MoRee and other licensed medpot growers also interpreted media reports as indicating that consortiums of growers, perhaps configured as “compassion clubs,” could apply to the government for licenses to grow large amounts of marijuana and be compensated.
Conroy says his first reading of the new ruling does not indicate that the potential opportunities for licensees are as clearly delineated as licensees believe.
“Current licensees might have to re-apply for a new license to accommodate their desire to grow for more than just themselves,” Conroy said. “It is also not totally clear what the rulings mean in regards to compassion clubs, although there are indications that compassion clubs could be licensed as growers if not providers. My point is that this a ruling on what was before the court only; there were some things that were not before the court that perhaps could have been, which influence how the ruling plays out on a practical level. Interested parties, such as patients, are going to have to contact the government to find out how the ruling affects their specific needs and request. There will be a period of time when this ruling settles in, and there will be different problems associated with it.”
MoRee said he intends to contact the government for clarification about the new ruling.
“I’m one of the growers like the people you mentioned in your magazine who is being helped by Advanced Nutrients as a medical grower,” he said. “Other patients who have Health Canada licenses and are growing their own medicine started by contacting Advanced Nutrients and asking for their assistance in getting started with a medical license and grow. Advanced Nutrients will tell you the procedures about getting a doctor and going through the bureaucracy, and if you are in the Lower Mainland near Vancouver and are a reliable, honest patient, they might help you with your grow so they can do research on your crop. The main thing is the court seems to make it easier for us to grow for other people and for new applicants to get what they need from a doctor to get the license. I am going to find out what I can do to grow as much medical marijuana as possible as soon as possible.”
For more information: www.ontariocourts.on.ca/decisions/2003/october/hitzigsynopsis.htm and www.advancednutrients.com