Judge rules Canada's pot possession laws unconstitutional
A Toronto judge has ruled that Canada's pot possession laws are unconstitutional after a man argued the country's medicinal marijuana regulations are flawed.
The 29-year-old Toronto resident had been charged with possession of about 3.5 grams or roughly $45 dollars worth of marijuana.
The man has no medical issues and doesn't want a medical exemption to smoke marijuana. In 2001, Health Canada implemented the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, which allow access to marijuana to people who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses.
In court, the man argued that the federal government only made it policy to provide marijuana to those who need it, but never made it an actual law. Because of that, he argued, all possession laws, whether medicinal or not, should be quashed.
The judge agreed and dismissed the charges.
"The government told the public not to worry about access to marijuana," said Judge Howard Borenstein. "They have a policy but not law.… In my view that is unconstitutional."
Defence lawyer Brian McAllister, who represented the man, said the ramifications of the ruling have potential to be "pretty big."
"Obviously, there's thousands of people that get charged with this offence every year," he said.
McAllister said Ontario residents charged with possessing marijuana now have a new defence.
"That's probably why the government will likely appeal the decision," he said.
Borenstein has given prosecutors two weeks before he makes his ruling official. Prosecutors told CBC News they want a speedy appeal to overturn the decision.
"For the time being, nothing changes," Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said about how the force deals with marijuana possession. "We have to wait and see what happens with the process through the courts."