August 3, 2000
Ontario High Court Calls Canadian Marijuana Law
Gives Parliament A Year To Change Law Or Marijuana Will Be Legal
The Ontario Court of Appeals this Monday
Canada's prohibition of marijuana "unconstitutional" and said if
Parliament does not amend the law to allow for medical use within a year,
marijuana possession for all Ontario residents will be legal.
The appeals court ruled that Canadian law fails to recognize that marijuana can be used as a medicine for patients with chronic illnesses.
The case involves Terrence Parker, a patient who suffers from debilitating epileptic seizures, and was charged with marijuana possession under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Under the act, it is illegal to possess or cultivate marijuana unless patients are granted exemptions by Canada's health minister. The appeals court suggested Parliament write into the law a nationwide medical marijuana exception.
Judge Marc Rosenberg, J.A., in the decision wrote, "I have concluded that the trial judge was right in finding that Parker needs marijuana to control the symptoms of his epilepsy. I have also concluded that the prohibition on the cultivation and possession of marijuana is unconstitutional... I have concluded that forcing Parker to choose between his health and imprisonment violates his right to liberty and security of the person. I have also found that these violations of Parker's rights do not accord with the principles of fundamental justice."
Rosenberg ruled that Parker, for his medical use, will be exempt from Canada's marijuana laws while Parliament attempts to rewrite the laws.
"This decision will open doors across the country for sick Canadians who need cannabis to help alleviate symptoms such as nausea and vomiting," said Parker's lawyer Aaron Harnett.
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500. The decision can be found at: http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/decisions/2000/july/parker.htm.
U.S. Justice Department Petitions Supreme Court To Overturn OCBC Ruling
The United States Justice Department filed
a petition of
certiorari last Friday asking the Supreme Court to review a Sept. 19,
1999 decision of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, allowing the
distribution of marijuana to patients who qualify for a medical necessity
defense. The U.S. also filed for an emergency order from the 9th Circuit
staying District Judge Charles Breyer's July 17th ruling allowing the
Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative to resume distribution to qualified
patients, pending a review by the Supreme Court.
The Justice Department stated the appeals court decision was "directly at odds with Congress' express finding that marijuana has no currently accepted use."
The Supreme Court will not decide whether to review the case until the new term of the Court begins in October.
"It is disappointing that the federal government is trying to prevent patients in need from having access to the medicine they require," said Robert Raich, Esq., the OCBC attorney.
"It's especially ironic that our government uses every legal appeal possible to continue to deny marijuana as a medicine to those who need it, while the courts in Canada are saying, 'either exempt medical users or we'll throw out the entire law,'" said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.
For more information, please contact Robert Raich, Esq., at (510) 338-0700 or Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.
9th Circuit Says Immigrants Cannot Be Deported For Expunged Drug Offenses
San Francisco, CA:
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
an Immigration and Naturalization Service policy that had required the
deportation of legal immigrants for any drug offense, including the
simple possession of marijuana.
The appeals court ruled that immigrants convicted for the first time of minor drug crimes cannot be deported if their convictions have been expunged under the Federal First Offender Act, or a similar state expungement statute. For example, expungement is offered in California for first-time drug offenders who complete probation without violating its conditions, including passing random drug tests and drug rehabilitation.
The case involved immigrants from Arizona and Idaho whose drug convictions were expunged under their respective state laws, but who faced deportation in 1997 when the INS argued that the expungement protections were eliminated by a 1997 federal immigration law. The appeals court, in a unanimous decision written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, stated that Congress failed to "provide any indication in the immigration statute that the new law was intended to displace the Federal First Offender Act."
"As there is no rational basis for a federal statute that treats persons adjudged guilty of a drug offense under state law more harshly than persons adjudged guilty of the identical offense under federal law, the petitioners may not be deported for their first-time simple drug possession offenses," Reinhardt wrote.
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.
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