After four months of prep, tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 17, the team of lawyer Paul Lewin and cannabis celebrity Matt Mernagh will present their argument Health Canada’s medicinal marijuana program is an illusion for the majority of Canadians trying to access it.
The trial commences at 10 a.m. at St. Catharines ON courthouse and is scheduled for three weeks. Mernagh was charged with growing cannabis for personal consumption in The Garden City and again three months later when he moved to Toronto. Charges he doesn’t deny. His Toronto charges were withdrawn, but for some reason the St. Catharines charge remained. Lewin will argue Mernagh had no choice but to grow his own marijuana to treat his medical condition. Their case will highlight plenty wrong with Health Canada’s medicinal marijuana program and shortage of family physicians in parts of Ontario.
An overwhelming amount of evidence came directly from Health Canada during pre-trial. Including documents from Canadian Medical Association suggesting a doctor registry be created. The registry would allow doctors to refer patients to doctors familiar with medicinal marijuana. Creating an open and transparent system. Mernagh notes that there are pot doctors, but people have to engage in the cannabis culture to find their names. Mernagh has spent the last four months at the law office of Lewin & Sagara speaking with Canadians from coast-to-coast who are unable to access the program. Mernagh used his extensive journalism skills to write sworn statements with the editing assistance from Paul Lewin. The bulk of the court record has already been submitted.
Here’s a breakdown of what we anticipate happening.
Day One – Opening arguments. Paul Lewin will outline his extensive legal argument. Citing various case laws (R v. Morgentaler, R v. Mills, R v. Beren, R v. Hitzig, R v. Parker and the Rape Victim Shield Laws) that support his position. The crown will argue Lewin’s evidence taken at it’s highest level will be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a charter violation is happening. It’s this argument, our evidence must be taken at the highest standard, that will present us with some difficulty. The prosecutor’s second argument hinges on the program working.
Day Two – A ruling will be issued on whether our evidence can be heard. If we loose this point, we’re cooked. Constitutional challenge over. We anticipate the judge ruling in our favor. Obviously! Then I will take the witness stand to testify to my witness gathering and problems accessing the Health Canada program.
Day Three – A patient witness who had problems accessing Health Canada’s medicinal marijuana program. After asking numerous doctors this person found a doctor willing to sign their Health Canada declaration.
Day Four and Five – Two patient witnesses who have asked doctors, but are still unable to access the program.
The following week we’ll have our two expert witnesses. We have a pharmacologist testifying to the dangers of opiate based medication, explain how the methadone program works, and finally the harm or lack thereof of cannabis. Our second expert is considered a watchdog of pharmaceutical industry. His resume is some 30 pages. In pre-trial we learned Health Canada spends nothing informing doctors about medicinal marihuana. Meanwhile we know via our expert, big pharma spends more money on packaging and marketing pills than on their production. We’ll suggest that a patient asking for medicinal marihuana has to go up against this slick marketing machinery and point number two, Health Canada hasn’t marketed the program in a same manner. We learned in pre-trial doctors dislike getting information from their patients on medicinal marihuana.
At the end of week two Health Canada will testify. We’ve already seen their evidence from pre-trial. A second batch of statistics, which they’ve requested be kept from the accused, has been provided to lawyer Lewin. An undertaking by the prosecutor to prevent me from seeing Health Canada evidence will be requested on day one. This may play into our argument about evidence taken at its highest level. Summations will take place on either Monday or Tuesday of the third week. Then the trial proper will take place. I’m pleading no contest to the charge. The trial will take less than 45 minutes to complete.
We have to convince the judge on day one to hear our evidence because it is relevant to prove there is a charter breach. I’d like to thank everyone who has dedicated their time to helping us with our constitutional challenge. For live court update Twitter.