Canadians can now eat, not just smoke, their medical marijuana

Cannabis cookies: no longer outlawed in Canada.
Cannabis cookies: no longer outlawed in Canada.
Image: AP/Brennan Linsley
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Canada’s supreme court has struck down a law that restricted medical marijuana users from purchasing or consuming the substance in any form except dried leaves. Under the law, which allows people with prescriptions to buy, grow, and smoke marijuana in its original form only, extracting resins or other active chemicals from the plant for cooking or external application could lead to criminal charges—as Owen Smith, who worked for a medical marijuana dispensary in Victoria, was reminded when police arrested him in possession of marijuana cookies, teas, and oils in 2009.

That arrest led to a legal case against the Canadian government because, as Smith’s employer at the dispensary later told reporters, it was ”quite absurd that [the] government would essentially force patients to smoke this plant instead of using all the other alternatives, which are much more medically beneficial to many patients.”

The Canadian government appealed to its highest court after several lower courts sided with Smith. Today’s ruling should settle the matter once and for all. The country’s health minister is “outraged” and said the government will continue to push back against the “normalization” of marijuana in society. But parents of sick children for whom marijuana has been therapeutically useful are now happy that their kids can take doses in different forms.