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Marijuana Possession Law Back On The Books

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TORONTO -- Canada's law against possessing small amounts of pot came back
into effect yesterday after the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down parts of
Ottawa's medicinal marijuana program.

Federal regulations governing the program unfairly restrict qualified users
in getting the drug, the court found. But it stopped short of the true goal
for many marijuana advocates: striking down the law in its entirety.

Instead, the three-judge panel nimbly singled out as unconstitutional
specific provisions of the federal Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, or
MMARs, leaving users to celebrate only a partial victory.

"That little gap that we had in Ontario where the law did not exist and
police could not arrest you for smoking is over," lawyer Alan Young said
outside court.

"Ultimately, I would prefer just to get rid of the law and let people take
care of themselves as they see fit. That didn't happen today, but at least
the court has given sick people some greater tools to be self-sufficient."

The provisions in question restricted licensed growers from receiving
compensation for their product, growing the drug for more than one qualified
patient and pooling resources with other licensed producers.

The ruling also struck down a requirement that sick people get two doctors
to validate their need to use marijuana as a drug.

"This narrow remedy would create a constitutionally valid medical exemption,
making marijuana prohibition ... immediately constitutionally valid and of
full force and effect and removing any uncertainty concerning the validity
of the prohibition," said a synopsis of the ruling issued by the court.

In other words, the ruling reinstates laws that were effectively suspended
in Ontario earlier this year when a judge ruled that possessing less than 30
grams of pot was no longer against the law in the province.

The decision is encouraging because it will allow medicinal growers to
produce a higher-quality drug in greater quantities, said Alison Myrden, a
medicinal user and longtime marijuana crusader.

The ruling agreed with a lower court ruling in January that found the
regulations were unconstitutional because they forced qualified users to
either grow their own pot or buy it on the black market. Officials from the
federal government could not immediately be reached for comment on the
ruling.


Pubdate: Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Contact: letters@edm.sunpub.com
Website: Under Construction fyiedmonton.com
Author: Canadian Press