Medical marijuana can legally be consumed in a range of ways — from cannabis-infused cookies and brownies to cooking oils and tea — the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday.
The decision to remove limitations on what constitutes legally acceptable medical marijuana was being hailed by advocates of alternative forms of pot.
It was also yet another rebuke of the Harper government’s tough-on-crime agenda as the court rejected an appeal by the federal government of a lower court ruling that medical marijuana users have a right to a range of products containing the drug.
Not only was it a unanimous 7-0 ruling, but the court made a point of attributing the written decision to the entire court — something the justices do when they want to underline a finding.
Until now, federal regulations stipulated that authorized users of physician-prescribed cannabis could only consume dried marijuana.
But limiting medical consumption to dried pot infringes on liberty protections under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the court said.
“The prohibition of non-dried forms of medical marijuana limits liberty and security of the person in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice,” said the written judgement.
The case stems from the arrest in 2009 of Owen Smith, former head baker for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, who was charged after police found more than 200 pot cookies and cannabis-infused olive oil and grapeseed oil in his Victoria apartment.
Smith was acquitted at trial and later won an appeal.
The initial trial judge gave the federal government a year to change the laws around cannabis extracts, but the high court said Thursday its ruling takes effect immediately.
Alex Repetski of Thornhill, Ont., was thrilled at the news.
For about 18 months he has been converting dried medical marijuana into an oil to give to his three-year-old daughter, Gwenevere, who has a debilitating form of epilepsy that has left her developmentally delayed.
Since starting on the low-THC marijuana, Gwenevere has seen an incredible recovery, Repetski said.
But by converting marijuana to oil, Repetski could have been charged with possession and since he was giving it to his daughter, who is too young to smoke pot, he could have been charged with trafficking.
“Nice!” Repetski said after he read the decision.
“Cannabis oil has been the only thing that has helped Gwenevere and nothing in the world would make me stop giving it to her, but it feels good that the law will not try to make me stop giving it to her.”