(en) Canadian legal decision on medical cannabis

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 10:00:02 +0000

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 23:08:38 -0800 (PST) From: MichaelP <papadop@PEAK.ORG> To: "long.list.of.names":; Subject: Canadian legal decision on medical cannabis

Wednesday December 10, 1997

Marijuana campaigner wins legal battle

TORONTO, Dec. 10 (UPI) _ A Canadian epilepsy patient who has campaigned for the legalization of cannabis for medical use has won an important court battle.

An Ontario provincial court ruled today that 42-year-old Toronto resident Terry Parker may buy or smoke cannabis, or marijuana, to treat the disease.

The court has ordered police to return more than 70 marijuana plants seized from his apartment in a July 1996 raid.

Parker, who has suffered from epilepsy most of his life, had argued in an affidavit that he needs marijuana to treat epileptic seizures, and asked the court to overturn a federal law banning the use of marijuana.

Judge Patrick Sheppard has accepted arguments that Parker's disease is best controlled by a combination of marijuana and other drugs, and that the Narcotics Control Act violated his constitutional rights.

He has exempted Parker and others like him from the law, allowing them to buy, grow and use cannibis for medical purposes.

Parker's lawyer Aaron Harnett told United Press International the ruling applies to Ontario only, but can be cited in other jurisdictions, since the Narcotics Control Act is a federal law.

However, Harnett says anyone selling marijuana could still be prosecuted for trafficking, and Parker would not be able to buy the drug by prescription, since it is simply not available in pharmacies.

To get around the dilemma, the court ruled that Parker would have the right to grow the marijuana plant for his own use.

The court did find Parker guilty for trafficking, since he admitted to police during the July 1996 raid that he had given the marijuana to others.

However, Harnett says that ruling was a technicality, and the judge has put Parker on probation as ``token'' punishment.

The Crown is considering an appeal.


TORONTO (Reuters) - An Ontario judge ruled Wednesday that a Toronto man could grow and use marijuana to control his severe epilepsy, saying the law banning the medicinal use of the drug was unconstitutional.

The landmark ruling was a major victory for advocates of the legalization of marijuana for medical use and for defendant Terrence Parker, 42, who has fought for 20 years to use the drug to control his severe form of epilepsy.

The use of marijuana for medical purposes has become hotly debated in Canada and the United States in recent years. A recent poll found that more than 80 percent of Canadians in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Judge Patrick Sheppard acquitted Parker on charges of marijuana cultivation and possession. The judge ruled that the materials used to grow the plant and the 71 marijuana plants seized from Parker's apartment must be returned to him.

Prosecutor Kevin Wilson declined to comment on the outcome of the case, but vowed to appeal the ruling.

Parker had been acquitted in a previous case of marijuana possession on the grounds of medical necessity.

Law experts said the latest case was legally significant because Parker based his defense on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, added to Canada's constitution in 1982.

Toronto criminal lawyer Alan Young said: "The difference is that in pre-charter the decision only applied to Parker and had no implication for any other medical patient.

"When you raise it as a constitutional claim it has broader implications because presumably now this ruling -- though it will be appealed of course -- will apply to anyone who can present cogent evidence of a medical necessity."

Young, who represents a multiple sclerosis patient also seeking legal access to marijuana, said the Parker case "is the first in a series of cases that will be taking place in Ontario. Slowly but surely there should be an accumulation of precedence, which should dismantle the prohibition (of marijuana) for the purpose of medical use."

Young said: "We have to get it up to the higher court but we have to start in the lower courts system. It will take probably a year and a half to see if this ruling or any other ruling will actually change the law into the future."

The Epilepsy Association of Toronto welcomed the ruling, saying: "We feel people should have opportunities and options to choose from. People who have epilepsy, by in large, are on medication to try and control their seizures. Lots of them do not get control of their seizures through those medicines and are searching for another way."

Epilepsy Association education coordinator Robin Rowe said that "we don't know if marijuana helps because there hasn't been a lot of research done." She said that since marijuana was not a product from which drug companies could benefit financially, "there's no real impetus to do research."


For more information and history on Terry Parker see:

Cannabis Canada Issue 7 http://www.hempbc.com/magazine/cc07/tpsuper.html

Terry Parker Says Weed Controls His Epilepsy http://www.hempbc.com/cgi/me/disp/v97.n353.a04

Epileptic launches cannabis challenge http://www.hempbc.com/cgi/me/disp/v97.n280.a14

Cannabis helps epileptics, eases pain, MD tells court http://www.hempbc.com/cgi/me/disp/v97.n285.a01

Protestor for legal pot arrested http://www.hempbc.com/cgi/me/disp/v97.n227.a02 - CClist, the electronic news and information service of CANNABIS CANADA, "Canada's National Magazine of Marijuana & Hemp" - Subscribe to Cannabis Canada! Call 1-800-330-HEMP for info. Write to: Suite 504, 21 Water St., Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B 1A1 Visit Cannabis Canada online at http://www.hempbc.com/ - To unsubscribe from this list send an email to majordomo@netnation.com with the words "unsubscribe cclist" in the body of the message.

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