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Distinction between edible and dry cannabis at issue in Supreme Court case

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The Supreme Court of Canada is currently considering arguments about whether the regulation of medical marijuana — specifically, edible cannabis products — is arbitrary and unconstitutional.

The case before the high court follows the acquittal of a British Columbia man who was charged with marijuana possession and marijuana trafficking. In 2009, police found edible marijuana products in his apartment. Those products reportedly included cannabis-infused olive oil and grapeseed oil and marijuana cookies.

Federal law allows for patients with medical marijuana prescriptions to smoke dried marijuana, but you can face drug possession and trafficking charges for making or distributing edible cannabis products. This distinction by Health Canada is the subject of debate now before the high court.

At issue is the question of whether the government infringes on a patient’s Charter rights by criminalizing forms of marijuana consumption other than smoking.

When the B.C. man’s case was tried in 2012, his lawyer argued that the current Health Canada regulation forces patients to smoke cannabis, when consuming edible products may be better for the patient’s health. Indeed, the judge agreed with that argument, saying that forcing a patient to smoke rather than eat medical marijuana infringes on the patient’s Charter rights.

It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court of Canada will address these issues.

In any case, if you have been accused of possessing, manufacturing, importing or trafficking marijuana, then do not hesitate to speak with a criminal defence lawyer. The penalties upon conviction are too severe not to develop a proactive defence strategy.

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