Many victims of accidents suffer from chronic pain. They turn to various forms of pain relief to help them get through the day. Their remedies to cope with the pain range from traditional medical intervention, prescription medication to the use of Cannabis Sativa in the form of medically approved marijuana. The use of marijuana remains controversial. Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose, speaking at the Canadian Medical Association’s annual general meeting stated, “Here’s what the science says: Marijuana can harm learning, memory and attention, all of which can harm educational achievement,” and noted that pot smoking has also been associated with a higher risk of depression and psychosis in young people.
Dr. Chris Simpson, incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association has stated that there “may well be” legitimate uses for medical marijuana, but calls for further review of the topic. “We need to just back up, take a deep breath and talk about the facts,” he said. “Let’s figure out what the appropriate role for marijuana is, if there is one.”
The use of medical marijuana was accepted by Arbitrator Eban Bayefski of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario as a viable treatment option. In T.N. and Personal Insurance Company of Canada (2012, FSCO A06-000399) Arbitrator Bayefski ruled that use of marijuana for the Applicant’s specific symptoms, namely, pain, anxiety, insomnia and poor appetite, while controversial, was not experimental in nature.
Health Canada posts that as of April 1, 2014, the only legal means to access marijuana for medical purposes is through a licensed producer under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). The new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations impose a maximum possession cap of the lesser of 150 grams of dried marijuana or 30 times their daily amount at any one time.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marc Emery, British Columbia’s “Prince of Pot”, emerges from U.S. prison and vows to continue his cause for cannabis. Mr. Emery may feel strengthened in his position by the British Columbia’s Court of Appeal decision that it is unconstitutional to forbid licensed medical marijuana users from possessing pot-laced products, such as cookies or body creams. Parliament has been given one year to re-craft regulations to allow medicinal marijuana users to use products made from cannabis extract. They can include creams, salves, oils, brownies, cakes, cookies and chocolate bars. Health Canada currently allows people suffering from debilitating illnesses access to medicinal marijuana, but only in the form of dried marijuana. This BC Court of Appeal decision may have impact on the business strategies of licensed producers of medical marijuana that are investing very significant sums in getting very large scale production facilities started. The license to grow and produce medical marijuana is expected to be big business that will involve publicly traded companies and very stringent security measures.
In case one wonders about investing in home grown plants, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and Divisional Court (leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal dismissed) found that a home insurer did not have to pay out $45,000 to cover the theft of eleven medicinal marijuana plants from a home owner’s backyard. The policy only covered personal property that is “usual to the ownership or maintenance of a dwelling.” The judges said not everyone has a crop of pot growing in their backyard. The home owner faces legal costs at all three levels of court. You can read more about the case on CanLII.
This blog post was contributed by Roelf Swart, OTLA Blog Committee member and lawyer practicing with Elkin Injury Law in St. Catharines, Ontario.