Tousaw Law Corporation

March 19, 2015 16:37 ET

Medical Marijuana Rights Movement Reaches the Supreme Court of Canada

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 19, 2015) - On March 20, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the first case ever involving medical cannabis (marihuana). Owen Smith, a producer of cannabis-based medicine for a Victoria, BC based compassion club known as the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada (CBC of C), was criminally charged with possessing THC for the purpose of trafficking after being arrested preparing a variety of edible cannabis products for the members of the compassion club, all of whom suffer from serious and debilitating conditions.

Critically and chronically ill Canadians that require, with physician support, access to cannabis (marihuana) for medical purposes are currently criminalized if they make their lawfully-possessed medical cannabis into edible or topical products. This is because the exemption created by Canada's medical cannabis scheme applies only to "dried marihuana" despite the undisputed fact that the therapeutically active compounds in cannabis are found in the trichomes: the resin glands that grow primarily on the surface of the plant. The plant matter itself is inert and has no medical utility.

Long-time medical cannabis advocate and lawyer Kirk Tousaw of the Tousaw Law Corporation explained that he will argue on behalf of his client "that the restriction to dried marihuana only infringes the liberty and security of the person rights of patients by criminalizing their reasonable choice of consuming medical cannabis in ways other than smoking it." Mr. Tousaw will argue that the restriction is arbitrary because smoking is, for some patients, a less effective and potentially more harmful method of taking the medicine and that "patients should not be criminalized for making cannabis cookies or infusing cannabis into tea." Both the BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal agreed with Mr. Tousaw's arguments; the Government of Canada has taken this case to the Supreme Court of Canada by appealing those decisions.

This historic case has the potential to fundamentally alter Canada's medical cannabis regime and to enable hundreds of thousands of Canadians to lawfully consume cannabis medicines in forms that better suit their medical condition. Mr. Tousaw has urged the high court to read a medical exemption into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, arguing "it should simply not be illegal for people to produce, distribute and consume cannabis intended for medical purposes. There is no good reason to make patients and their caregivers into criminals and to subject them to long jail terms for trying to gain a better quality of life."

Mr. Owen Smith, who was acquitted at trial, explained "it is my honour to stand for the courageous medical patients that not only have to fight for their health, but for their right to maintain it." Mr. Ted Smith (no relation), the CBC of C founder said "the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has helped many patients improve their health and live longer by using cannabis extracts, and we are very excited to have the opportunity to make these alternatives available legally across the country."

Contact Information

  • For further information or comments please contact
    Kirk Tousaw (Barrister) via Whelm King (Administrator)
    604-836-1420
    info@tousawlaw.ca