Supreme Court Validates Compassion Club Practices

The British Columbia Compassion Club (BCCCS) today announced their support of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the R v Smith case concerning edible cannabis medicine.

“This is yet one more case that shows why Compassion Clubs exist,” said Jamie Shaw, a spokesperson with the group. “Dispensaries have consistently had charges against them dropped; growers have consistently been granted discharges; and our reasons for civil disobedience have been constantly validated by the courts,” she said.

In the case of R v Smith the Supreme Court found that the ‘effects of prohibition contradict the objective of public health and safety’, and that ‘by forcing a person to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one, the law also infringes security of the person.

The ruling also states that liberty is limited ‘by foreclosing reasonable medical choices through the threat of criminal prosecution‘. Shaw believes that the same holds true for patients who are forced to choose between the legal, but inadequate Health Canada program, and the illegal effective dispensaries.

“These three findings perfectly encapsulate why we exist, an,” Shaw said, adding “We sincerely hope that these findings are applied to the issue of access as well, so that, patients are no longer forced to choose between the inadequate but legal Health Canada program or illegal dispensaries that provide education, support and other services.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, and we’ve been doing it with both patients and public safety in mind. The courts recognized that back in 2001, and we’ve only gotten better at it since then,” Shaw said.

She expressed disappointment that the court didn’t accept Mr. Tousaw’s suggestion to simply remove cannabis from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

“It means we won’t be seeing any clarity any time soon.” Shaw said, “It may be some time before workable, constitutional regulations are developed by Health Canada.”

Shaw also points out that the ruling refers to patients with ‘medical authorization’ and that this isn’t the same language as the ‘medical document’ referred to in the MMPR, adding she would like to see some further clarity about what is considered ‘medical authorization’ in the eyes of the courts.

The BC Compassion Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1997. It is the longest-running dispensary in North America.

Media contact: Jamie Shaw jamie[at]thecompassionclub.org

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