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SCC marijuana ruling applauded by Montreal patients
In his 25 short years, Tristan Williams has battled two cancers, had countless surgeries and a hip replacement. And as if that wasn't enough, he also suffers from multiple sclerosis.
He says medical marijuana helps him deal with his anxiety, pain, and helps him stay balanced so he can achieve his goals.
Inhalation offers fast relief, but Williams says he often prefers the milder, longer-lasting feeling from edibles such as cookies, oils and butters.
“You can be a chef with medical marijuana. … You can use it for anything. Just replace your fat or oil substitute with medical marijuana and you can make whatever you choose,” he said.
But until now, consuming it in any way other than its dry form was considered illegal in Canada.
In a unanimous decision released Thursday, the Supreme Court found that restriction violated patients’ rights.
The ruling stems from an incident from 2009 when B.C. man Owen Smith was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking after police found cannabis-infused olive oil and cookies in his apartment. He challenged the law and won at both trial court and the appeal level. The federal government decided to challenge the rulings in the Supreme Court, prompting Thursday’s ruling.
Users have long argued that ingesting marijuana is a healthier alternative to smoking
At Sante Cannabis, Montreal’s first medical marijuana clinic, the ruling is being called a victory for patients’ rights.
“What this is a major evolution in the way we evolve cannabis policy, its sending a strong message to the Harper government that they can't treat people who smoke cannabis like criminals,” said the clinic’s executive director Adam Greenblatt.
The federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said she's outraged by the ruling.
“It is not an approved medicine by Health Canada, it has not undergone rigorous safety reviews by Health Canada, it has never been approved to be a medicine,” she said
Ambrose is worried the ruling "normalizes" the use of medical marijuana, so she says she'll fight the ruling the only way she can – by telling young Canadians marijuana is a potentially harmful drug, not medicine.
The next step to this ruling is licenced producers will be able to sell edible marijuana products, an event something Tristan Williams looks forward to.
“To see that's it's finally recognized and it's finally going to be integrated… I'm excited for me and all the other users of medical marijuana,” he said.