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Pot stays illegal in Canada after Appeal Court upholds medical marijuana laws

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Pot stays illegal in Canada after Appeal Court upholds medical marijuana laws

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TORONTO -- Canada's ban on marijuana was effectively upheld Friday when Ontario's top court struck down the country's laws related to medicinal pot much to the chagrin of activist groups.

In overturning a lower court ruling, the Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge had made numerous errors in striking down the country's medical pot laws. Among other things, the Appeal Court found the judge was wrong to interpret an earlier ruling as creating a constitutional right to use medical marijuana.

"Given that marijuana can medically benefit some individuals, a blanket criminal prohibition on its use is unconstitutional," the Appeal Court said.

"(However), this court did not hold that serious illness gives rise to an automatic right to use marijuana."

Currently, doctors are allowed to exempt patients from the ban on marijuana, but many physicians have refused to prescribe the drug on the grounds its benefits are not scientifically proven.

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network called the decision a disappointing missed opportunity.

"Allowing the current regulations to stand unchanged will leave many people with serious health conditions without effective access to legal authorization to use cannabis as medicine," said Richard Elliott, executive director of the network.

"People shouldn't have to risk going to prison in order to get the medicine they need."

The ruling comes in the case of Matthew Mernagh, 37, of St. Catharines, Ont., who suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis, seizures and depression.

While he argues marijuana is the most effective treatment of his pain, he said he was unable to find a doctor to support his application for a medical marijuana licence.

Mernagh resorted to growing his own and was charged with producing the drug in April 2008.

In April 2011, Ontario Superior Court Justice Donald Taliano found that sick people cannot get access to medical marijuana through appropriate means. He said that forced ill people who should be able to get the drugs to resort to criminal acts.

Taliano struck down the laws prohibiting possession and production of cannabis as unconstitutional but the ruling was put on hold pending the federal government's appeal, which was heard last May.

The Appeal Court found Taliano had relied on "anecdotal evidence" and drew unfounded conclusions that the medicinal pot scheme made it almost impossible for patients to get legal access to the drug.

"The trial judge found that the 'vast majority' of those who needed medical marijuana were unable to get physicians to sign (exemption) declarations," the Appeal Court said.

"The record does not support the trial judge's inference that they failed to obtain medical declarations only because Canadian physicians are boycotting the (medicinal pot scheme)."

Osgoode Law Prof. Alan Young said the Appeal Court decision should not be seen as an endorsement of the medical marijuana program.

"They simply didn't feel the evidence was sufficient," Young said. "The case is important to show people that the program is still failing."

He noted the court started off in its judgment by noting this was the third time the Appeal Court was reviewing the medicinal pot scheme and the government was already making changes.

In December, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced Ottawa would no longer grant medical marijuana licences to users, and only doctors would be able to prescribe pot.

In Friday's decision, the court said Mernagh had failed to provide evidence from a doctor that he met the criteria for a medical exemption to the country's pot ban.

"It was not open to the trial judge to hold that Mr. Mernagh and the patient witnesses who had not obtained medical declarations were entitled to exemptions," the Appeal Court said.

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Cue the potheads - "THIS IS BALONEY".

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Uh it is legal for those with a card .Other than that possession of up to 30 grams can lead to incarceration. Harper's new laws on pot are insane and Alberta has the toughest stance on possession. It will never be decriminalized because the crown makes way to much money off of these possession/distribution cases.

"Keep it secret, keep it safe "

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Who the hell do humans think they are outlawing nature...and a beneficial medicinal herb at that. You guys are as ****ed up as we are on this issue.

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Baloney dude? I so got the munchies, I could probably eat like a whole stack of baloney bro. Imagine all the baloney you could eat man, I wish it was like the governments responsibilty to ensure all citizens had like all the baloney they could possibly eat. Thats a world I want to live in man. That's the dream, a government that cares man. Instead of making us go to war they would all be like here have this baloney and peace be with you man. Then they could give everyone slurpees, damn I want a slurpee. I love mixing all the slurpee colours to make like a rainbow confectionary of slurpee flavors. But it sucks bro, cause always at the end it turns all brown and I generally live by the rule of not drinking brown liquids. There was this time I had like major pasties man after a smoking a big philly and the only water around was in a puddle and my friend said we should drink out of the puddle. So I scooped up some water but it was all muddy and it didn't even help my pasties at all. What the hell were we talking about again?

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Can I buy some chronic from you? lol. that sounds like something mildly hallucinogenic. :P

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