R v Parker

DATE: 20000731
DOCKET: C28732
COURT OF APPEAL FOR ONTARIO
CATZMAN, CHARRON and ROSENBERG JJ.A.
B E T W E E N : )
) Kevin R. Wilson,
HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN ) for the appellant
)
Appellant ) Richard P. Macklin and
) Aaron B. Harnett,
– and – ) for the respondent
)
TERRANCE PARKER ) Ed Morgan,
) for the Intervener,
Respondent ) Epilepsy Association of Toronto
)
) Heard: October 6, 7 and 8, 1999
)
On appeal against the stay of proceedings granted to the respondent by The
Honourable Judge Patrick Sheppard on December 10, 1997
ROSENBERG J.A.:
[1] This is one of two appeals heard by this court concerning the constitutionality of
the marihuana prohibition in the former Narcotic Control Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. N-1 and
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19. The appeal in R. v. Clay
concerns the use of the criminal law power to penalize the possession of marihuana. This
Crown appeal concerns the medical use of marihuana.
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OVERVIEW
[2] It has been known for centuries that, in addition to its intoxicating or psychoactive
effect, marihuana has medicinal value. The active ingredients of marihuana are known as
cannabinoids. The cannabinoid that gives marihuana its psychoactive effect is
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While less is known about the other cannabinoids, the
scientific evidence is overwhelming that some of them may have anti-seizure properties.
The most promising of these is cannabidiol (CBD). Smoking marihuana is one way to
obtain the benefit of CBD and other cannabinoids with anti-seizure properties.
[3] The respondent Terrance Parker has suffered from a very severe form of epilepsy
since he was a young child. For close to 40 years he has experienced frequent serious
and potentially life-threatening seizures. He has attempted to control these seizures
through surgery and conventional medication. The surgery was a failure and the
conventional medication only moderately successful. He has found that by smoking
marihuana he can substantially reduce the incidence of seizures. Since he has no legal
source of marihuana, he has been growing it himself. On two occasions, the police
searched his home and seized the marihuana. He was first charged with cultivating
marihuana under the Narcotic Control Act. By the time of the second investigation, that
Act had been repealed and he was charged with possession of marihuana under the new
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
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[4] The former Narcotic Control Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
prohibit under threat of imprisonment the possession and cultivation of marihuana. That
prohibition is theoretically not absolute. Both statutes contemplate that drugs like
marihuana may have medicinal value and therefore should be available through a
regulatory process. If a drug receives the necessary regulatory approval, it can be made
available to the public through a physician’s prescription. A synthetic version of THC,
known as Marinol, has been approved for use in Canada and is available by prescription.
No drug company has applied for a licence to sell CBD and therefore it is not available in
Canada.
[5] Parker decided to fight the charges against him by attempting to show that the
prohibition on the cultivation and possession of marihuana in the two statutes is
unconstitutional. Specifically, he claims that the legislation infringes his rights as
guaranteed by s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7
guarantees that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the
right not to be deprived of those rights except in accordance with the principles of
fundamental justice. Put simply, Parker claims that he needs to grow and smoke
marihuana as medicine to control his epilepsy. Because Parliament has made cultivation
and possession of marihuana illegal, he faces the threat of imprisonment to keep his
health. Parker argues that a statute that has this effect does not comport with fundamental
justice. To support his claim at trial, Parker led a great deal of scientific and other
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evidence. That evidence demonstrated the therapeutic value of marihuana for treating a
number of very serious conditions including epilepsy, glaucoma, the side effects of
cancer treatment and the symptoms of AIDS.
[6] The government countered with its own evidence at trial. It argued that Parker
does not need marihuana to control his seizures and that he has a number of other legal
therapeutic alternatives; such as better treatment with conventional epilepsy medication
or obtaining a prescription for Marinol.
[7] In reasons reported at (1997), 12 C.R. (5th) 251, Sheppard J. of the Ontario Court
of Justice concluded that Parker requires marihuana to control his epilepsy and that the
prohibition against marihuana infringes Parker’s rights under s. 7 of the Charter.
Sheppard J. stayed the cultivation and possession charges against Parker. Further, in
order to protect Parker and others like him who need to use marihuana as medicine the
trial judge read into the legislation an exemption for persons possessing or cultivating
marihuana for their “personal medically approved use”.
[8] The Crown appeals from that judgment. It argues that the trial judge made a
factual error in finding that Parker requires marihuana for medical purposes. The Crown
also argues that the legislation is valid and that there are legal means by which Parker can
obtain marihuana. It says that the legislation is not unconstitutional simply because no
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drug company has attempted to have marihuana or CBD licensed for sale through
prescription. It also argues that Parker could have applied for a special exemption from
the Minister of Health under s. 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It points
to fresh evidence placed before this court that the Minister has granted such exemptions
to other persons who need marihuana for therapeutic purposes. Finally, the Crown says
the remedy granted by the trial judge was wrong and he should not have, in effect,
amended the legislation, that this is a matter for Parliament.
[9] Parker supports the decision of the trial judge. The Epilepsy Association of
Toronto has intervened in this appeal and it also supports the trial judge’s decision. In
addition, the Association attempts to raise a new argument, that the statutes also violate
the equality provisions of the Charter.
[10] I have concluded that the trial judge was right in finding that Parker needs
marihuana to control the symptoms of his epilepsy. I have also concluded that the
prohibition on the cultivation and possession of marihuana is unconstitutional. Based on
principles established by the Supreme Court of Canada, particularly in R. v. Morgentaler,
[1988] 1 S.C.R. 30, where the court struck down the abortion provisions of the Criminal
Code, and Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519, where
the court upheld the assisted suicide offence in the Criminal Code, I have concluded that
forcing Parker to choose between his health and imprisonment violates his right to liberty
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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. In particular, I have concluded that
the possibility of an exemption under s. 56 dependent upon the unfettered and
unstructured discretion of the Minister of Health is not consistent with the principles of
fundamental justice. I have not dealt with the equality argument raised by the Epilepsy
Association because that argument was not raised at trial.
[11] Accordingly, I would uphold the trial judge’s decision to stay the charges against
Parker and I would dismiss that part of the Crown’s appeal. However, I disagree with
Sheppard J.’s remedy of reading in a medical use exemption into the legislation. I agree
with the Crown that this is a matter for Parliament. Accordingly, I would declare the
prohibition on the possession of marihuana in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
to be of no force and effect. However, since this would leave a gap in the regulatory
scheme until Parliament could amend the legislation to comply with the Charter, I would
suspend the declaration of invalidity for a year. During this period, the marihuana law
remains in full force and effect. Parker, however, cannot be deprived of his rights during
this year and therefore he is entitled to a personal exemption from the possession offence
under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for possessing marihuana for his medical
needs. Since the Narcotic Control Act has already been repealed by Parliament, there is
no need to hold it unconstitutional. If necessary, I would have found that Parker was
entitled to a personal exemption from the cultivation offence for his medical needs.
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[12] Following are my reasons for these conclusions. Because a principal part of the
Crown’s attack on the trial decision was on the trial judge’s findings of fact, I will deal at
some length with the evidence. I will then review the trial judge’s findings on the law
before setting out my own analysis of the legal issues. Finally, I will explain why I
would grant a different remedy from the remedy granted by the trial judge.
THE FACTS
(i) The facts of the offences
[13] Marihuana was seized from the respondent on two different occasions. On
July 18, 1996, police officers executed a warrant at the respondent’s home and seized 71
marihuana plants. He was charged with cultivating cannabis marihuana contrary to
s. 6(1) of the Narcotic Control Act and possession of cannabis marihuana for the purpose
of trafficking contrary to s. 4(2) of the Act. On September 18, 1997, the police again
attended at the respondent’s home and seized three growing marihuana plants. By this
time, the Narcotic Control Act had been repealed. On this occasion, the respondent was
charged with possession of marihuana contrary to s. 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act.
[14] A short note on terminology. Section 3 of the Narcotic Control Act prohibits the
unauthorized possession of a “narcotic”. The term “narcotic” is defined in s. 2 of the Act
as anything included in the schedule to the Act. Section 3 of the schedule lists “Cannabis
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sativa, its preparations, derivatives and similar synthetic preparations” including
“Cannabis (marihuana)”, “Cannabidiol” (CBD), and “Tetrahydrocannabinol” (THC).
Section 6 prohibits the unauthorized cultivation of “marihuana”. Section 2 defines
marihuana as “Cannabis sativa L.” In the evidence, the terms cannabis and marihuana
tended to be used interchangeably. For simplicity, I will try to use only the term
marihuana when referring to the plant and the raw part of it that is smoked by users. This
appeal does not deal with “refined” marihuana such as cannabis resin (hashish). I will
refer to the two active ingredients about which there was considerable evidence by their
initials THC and CBD. Marinol is a synthetic form of THC.
[15] The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is slightly different in form from the
Narcotic Control Act. Section 4 prohibits the unauthorized possession of “substances”
listed in certain schedules, including “Cannabis (marihuana)” and CBD and THC.
Section 7 of the Act prohibits the unauthorized production of substances in the schedules
and thus Cannabis (marihuana). Again, for simplicity I will use the term marihuana to
refer to the substance grown and used by Parker.
[16] To return to the facts, the charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking was
based on Parker’s admission to the police that he gives some of his marihuana to other
persons who need it for their epileptic seizures. He was found guilty of that offence. The
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Charter challenge does not relate to that offence and it played no part in the proceedings
in this court.
[17] There was no dispute about the facts upon which the cultivation charge under the
Narcotic Control Act and the possession charge under the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act were based. At one point in the proceedings, Parker had apparently
considered relying on a defence of necessity. However, he did not pursue that defence
and the only issue at trial was the constitutionality of the prohibition against possession
and cultivation of marihuana where an accused claims that he or she requires the
marihuana for medicinal purposes.
(ii) Parker’s health and experience with marihuana
[18] When he was four and six years of age, Parker suffered two serious head injuries.
He was diagnosed with epilepsy after the first accident and thus has had epilepsy for
almost 40 years. He suffers from the whole range of seizures associated with epilepsy.
These range from petit mal seizures, which are brief spells where he almost collapses, to
status epilepticus when he suffers a series of grand mal seizures and requires immediate
emergency medical attention. Grand mal seizures leave Parker unconscious, violently
twitching and writhing on the ground. He will sometimes vomit, lose control of his
bowels, choke on his own saliva and smash his head against the ground.
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[19] Parker also has various other types of seizures including the following:
Jacksonian: Limbs shake and vibrate uncontrollably, lasts for
up to 45 seconds.
Complex partial (psychomotor): Vivid hallucinations and
problems in perception that last up to three minutes; during
one of these episodes Parker mistook the end of a subway
platform for the back of a truck and jumped off; he was
brought to his senses by the sound of an approaching train
and was able to scramble to safety.
Partial continuous: Uncontrollable grinding of teeth and loss
of control of left arm and leg for short bursts up to a minute.
An episode can include dozens of attacks lasting more than a
day.
Akinetic: Parker drops to the ground and lies unconscious for
up to five minutes. He often injures his head and face in the
fall.
[20] Parker has been prescribed many drugs for the treatment of his epilepsy. The
primary drugs in his plan are Phenytoin (Dilantin) and Primidone (Mysoline). Both drugs
have various side effects to which I will refer below when reviewing the expert evidence.
[21] The seizures associated with Parker’s epilepsy severely disrupted his school
attendance. As a child and young teen, Parker grew increasingly despondent over his
medical condition and the terror he experienced with seizures. Aggressive medical
treatment with various drugs did not improve his condition.
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[22] At the age of 14, in an attempt to control his seizures, Parker underwent a right
temporal lobectomy at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. The operation involved
the opening of his cranium and the removal of brain matter. The operation was a
complete failure and Parker suffered a grand mal seizure in the recovery room. Parker
became depressed and suicidal and was hospitalized in various psychiatric hospitals. At
the age of 16, Parker agreed to further surgery. Only local anesthetic was used and thus
Parker was awake while his skull was opened and further brain material was scraped
away. The operation did not reduce the seizures.
[23] In the late 1960’s, Parker was introduced to marihuana while an in-patient at a
provincial institution. Parker’s use was originally recreational. By 1974, he was a
regular user and he had observed that while under the influence of marihuana, the
frequency and intensity of his seizures sharply declined.
[24] In 1980, Parker reported his experience with marihuana to his physician and
started to diarize his marihuana use and seizure frequency. Over a six-month period, he
found that he experienced grand mal seizures when he did not take marihuana and
experienced no seizures when he took marihuana in addition to his prescription medicine.
[25] In 1987, Parker’s physician advised that the side effects of the prescription
medications were so severe that higher dosages could not be used. Therefore, the
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physician advised him to regularly use marihuana in conjunction with his prescription
medicine to control his seizures. The physician provided a report in September 1987 that
included the following:
Mr. Parker has had many side effects over the years due to his
anti-convulsant medications, which have prevented their
perhaps more efficacious use in higher doses. These side
effects are well-recognized in the medical literature. Hence,
from a medical and quality-of-life point of view, I am of the
opinion that it is medically necessary, in order to obtain
optimal seizure control, that Mr. Parker regularly use
marijuana in conjunction with his other anti-convulsant
medications.
[26] In 1987, Parker was charged with possession of marihuana. He was acquitted on
the basis of the common-law defence of necessity. A Crown appeal to the Ontario
District Court was dismissed. Shapiro Dist. Ct. J. noted Parker’s lengthy history of grand
mal epilepsy and his attempts at treatment with drugs and through surgery and concluded
that the trial judge could properly find that the necessity defence was made out.
[27] Parker continued to derive substantial benefit from smoking marihuana in
conjunction with his prescription drugs. If he consumes marihuana on a daily basis, he
experiences virtually no seizures. Without marihuana, within three days he experiences
seizures again and will have three to five grand mal seizures a week and many more
other lesser seizures. Parker is also able to use marihuana to avert oncoming seizures.
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When he experiences a prodrome, a precursor to a grand mal seizure, and consumes
marihuana, he is able to combat the oncoming seizure.
[28] The seizures associated with Parker’s epilepsy constitute a serious threat to his
health and safety. He has been hospitalized over 100 times due to injuries sustained from
seizures. He has been robbed while unconscious and arrested as being drunk, although he
does not drink alcohol. Because of the severity of his symptoms, Parker is unable to
work and is on a government disability pension.
[29] From 1980 to 1996, Parker was not under the care of an epilepsy specialist. He
was under the care of a specialist at the time of the trial in 1997, having first seen him
about three weeks before the trial. Parker has had his blood levels monitored about twice
a year. The only change in medication that has been recommended by a physician in the
recent past was from an emergency room physician who suggested that he increase the
dosage of Dilantin from 300 mg to 400 mg per day. Parker declined due to his concern
about liver damage at the increased dosage. Crown counsel conducted an extremely brief
cross-examination of Parker, which showed that Parker had not asked to have Marinol
prescribed for him.
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[30] Parker’s mother filed an affidavit on the appeal to update his medical condition.
She states that Parker’s health has greatly improved since the trial and she attributes this
to the lack of seizures due to his use of marihuana.
[31] At trial, some evidence was given about Parker’s participation in a study at the
Addiction Research Foundation in 1979. He testified that he was given some pills
containing what he was later told was some form of synthetic THC, a placebo, and a plant
that had been sprayed with THC. He had little information at trial about the study or its
conclusions. He believed that the study concluded that the use of THC had neither a
beneficial nor detrimental effect on his seizures.
[32] On appeal, counsel for Parker produced the results of the study. No objection was
taken to this evidence and indeed the appellant relied upon this material. This study
assumed considerable importance on the appeal and therefore I set out its findings in
some detail. The study was undertaken to assess Parker’s claim that marihuana was
beneficial in controlling his seizures. The authors of the study noted that “recently
cannabidiol [CBD], a marijuana constituent which lacks psychotropic effects in man, has
been studied in a wide variety of both natural and experimentally induced epileptic
models and has been shown, almost uniformly, to be anti-convulsant”. However, the
ARF study of Parker dealt only with THC, in part, because it was available in a purified
form.
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[33] It is important to set out the conclusions from the study:
From the study it would appear that [THC] had neither
beneficial nor detrimental effects on either the clinical or
electroencephalographic features of this man’s seizure
disorder. Several factors however, make it difficult to
correlate our findings with what actually happens while he is
out of hospital smoking crude marijuana. The marked
decrease in seizure frequency during hospitalization is a well
recognized occurrence. Hospitalization also ensured
anticonvulsant drug compliance to Dilantin particularly since
it was subtherapeutic on admission and also after discharge.
The use of pure [THC] is also open to criticism since the
patient’s experience had been with crude marijuana in which
[THC] is only one of several cannabinoids including
cannibidiol which may be more exclusively anticonvulsant.
This patient however was followed at weekly intervals for
four weeks after discharge with his anticonvulsants being
supplied in weekly allotments. During this time he was
regularly smoking crude marijuana obtained on the street.
Seizure frequency remained low with only two seizures in the
four weeks. The EEG’s showed no significant difference
from those done in hospital and the marijuana urine levels
were just slightly below those measured in hospital. Dilantin
levels were subtherapeutic but Tegretol and Mysoline
remained within the therapeutic range.
Much more extensive clinical investigation is needed with
both crude marijuana and the individual cannabinoids before
any definitive statement can be made concerning either
harmful or beneficial effects in epileptics. Perhaps different
types of seizure disorders respond differently and Feeney has
also suggested that the response depends to some extent on
the pre-drug baseline seizure frequency and intensity, seizures
being activated in individuals with a low baseline frequency
and attenuated in those with a high baseline frequency. Until
more work is done, however, we feel it prudent to advise
epileptics against the use of marijuana. [Footnotes omitted.]
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[34] The parties drew completely opposite conclusions from this study. Parker relies
on the study as further evidence in support of the trial judge’s findings of fact. On the
other hand, the Crown suggests that the study supports its submission that findings made
by the trial judge concerning Parker’s need for marihuana to control his seizures are
unsupported by the evidence. I will set out those findings of fact in some detail after my
review of the expert evidence. Suffice it to say at this stage that the trial judge found as a
fact that synthetic THC (Marinol) is not effective for Parker since it does not contain
CBD, that Parker had shown control of seizures is best achieved through a combination
of conventional medication and smoking marihuana, and that he had been reasonably
diligent in attempting to control his seizures through conventional treatment.
[35] In my view, the ARF study confirms Parker’s belief that THC does not have a
therapeutic effect on him. The Crown overstates the case that the ARF study shows that
if Parker properly monitored his intake of conventional medications he would not need to
resort to marihuana use. As the authors point out, “marked decrease in seizure frequency
during hospitalization is a well recognized occurrence”. There was no suggestion that
Parker’s continued hospitalization was a reasonable alternative to his use of marihuana to
control his seizure activity outside the hospital. It may be that hospitalization also
ensured anticonvulsant drug compliance. However, the issue of Parker’s use of
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conventional medication and compliance with that regime was squarely before the trial
judge. It was open to the trial judge to accept Parker’s evidence that he took his
medication as prescribed. The ARF study also confirms that Parker’s decision not to
seek a prescription for Marinol was a reasonable one. In addition, no physician has
apparently suggested that Parker use Marinol. As counsel for Parker aptly pointed out in
oral argument, the only person who has “prescribed” Marinol for Parker is Crown
counsel. Finally, the ARF study marginally supports the theory that it is CBD rather than
THC that is the medicinal ingredient in marihuana at least in respect of control of
seizures. It therefore supports the trial judge’s finding in that regard in respect of Parker.
(iii) The harmful and therapeutic effects of marihuana
[36] The parties placed a considerable body of evidence before Sheppard J. about the
medicinal use of and claims about marihuana.1 On consent, the parties filed the
transcripts from the trial in R. v. Clay. The principal experts were Dr. Kalant, who had
also testified for the Crown at the Clay trial, and Dr. Morgan, who testified on behalf of
the defence. Both are highly qualified.
1 The parties also placed “fresh” evidence before this court. For the most part, this evidence falls within the
category of legislative facts and, in my view, is properly admissible. See Ford v. Quebec (Attorney-General)
(1988), 54 D.L.R. (4th) 577 (S.C.C.) at 624-26. The one category of evidence that may constitute adjudicative facts
is an affidavit from the respondent’s mother setting out the respondent’s health since the judgment. The Crown
objected to one paragraph of that affidavit as hearsay and I have ignored that paragraph.
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[37] It appears to me that the differences between the Crown and defence experts lay
mostly in the emphasis they placed on certain facts and the inferences they drew. One
fact looms very large in this case, as it did in the Clay case. The experts agreed that there
is a need for better studies about the long-term effects of regular marihuana use and for
better studies about the therapeutic value of marihuana.
[38] As I have indicated, the transcripts from the trial in R. v. Clay were filed on
consent in this trial. That evidence set the background for the issues in this case as it set
out the existing state of knowledge about the harmful health effects of marihuana.
Sheppard J. adopted the findings of fact made by McCart J. in the Clay trial. Since those
findings are fully set out in my reasons in the Clay appeal, I will only briefly summarize
the findings of particular relevance to this appeal.
[39] Consumption of marihuana is relatively harmless compared to the so-called hard
drugs and including tobacco and alcohol and there is no “hard evidence” that even longterm
use can lead to irreversible physical or psychological damage. Marihuana use is not
criminogenic (i.e. there is no causal relationship between marihuana use and criminality)
and it does not make people more aggressive or violent. There have been no recorded
deaths from consumption of marihuana. Marihuana does have an intoxicating effect and
it would not be prudent to drive while intoxicated. As with tobacco smoking, marihuana
smoking can cause bronchial pulmonary damage, especially in heavy users. There may
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be other side effects from the use of marihuana and its effects are probably not as benign
as was thought some years ago. However, these other effects are not acute except in very
narrow circumstances, for example, people with schizophrenia. I will return to the
question of the harmful effects of marihuana when discussing the objectives of the
marihuana prohibition in the legal analysis.
[40] On this appeal, the Crown disputes some of the findings by McCart J. and hence
their acceptance by Sheppard J. The Crown relies upon evidence that Dr. Kalant gave at
the trial in commenting on the findings by McCart J.2 Dr. Kalant’s reservations about the
findings made in the Clay trial are minor and, in any event, do not seriously affect the
constitutional analysis in this case, which is concerned with the medical use of
marihuana.3 For example, Dr. Kalant repeated the testimony he gave at the Clay trial that
if the level of use went up “dramatically”, the amount of harm produced by “heavy use”
would undoubtedly also go up. For the purposes of this case, I would accept that
common-sense observation, but there is no indication that the medicinal use of marihuana
would lead to a dramatic use in marihuana generally.
2 The reasons of McCart J. are reported at (1997), 9 C.R. (5th) 349 (Ont. Ct. (Gen. Div.)).
3 I note that Howard Prov. Ct. J., who heard similar evidence in R. v. Caine, [1998] B.C.J. No. 885 came to
almost the same conclusions as did McCart J. The accused in Caine appealed from that decision. The British
Columbia Court of Appeal heard that appeal with another appeal raising the same issues. A majority of the court
upheld the trial decisions in reasons cited as R. v. Malmo-Levine 2000 BCCA 335. I have made extensive reference
to this decision in my reasons in R. v. Clay. Malmo-Levine does not deal with the therapeutic use of marihuana.
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[41] Dr. Kalant also pointed out that the phrase “hard evidence” was not defined in the
reasons for judgment, and therefore the statement should not be accepted as a “statement
of fact”. In my view, this is a matter of semantics and reflects the difficulty of
reconciling scientific proof with proof in litigation. In short, scientists can continue to
study a problem until it is resolved. They find facts through continual testing,
experimentation and research. A finding will only be accepted as a fact when it can be
replicated under carefully controlled circumstances by many different researchers. This
is a particularly onerous standard where, as with the harmful effects of marihuana, what
is sought to be demonstrated is a negative, that marihuana does not cause serious physical
or mental harm. The fact that on the current state of the research no such negative
conclusion can be reached is not a statement for scientists that there is no harm, only that
more studies may have to be done. Trial judges do not have that luxury. They are
required to reach a conclusion on the basis of the record placed before them by the
parties. When McCart J. said that there was no hard evidence of irreversible organic
mental damage from the consumption of marihuana, he was making a finding that he was
satisfied that no such harm had been demonstrated on the evidence presented in his
courtroom. This finding was in any event qualified by the finding, accepted by
Sheppard J., that there was a satisfactory body of evidence that heavy smoking of
marihuana can cause bronchial pulmonary damage.
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[42] I will now turn to the evidence concerning the medicinal use of marihuana. There
are a number of active ingredients, cannabinoids, in marihuana. The main ingredient in
marihuana that gives it the psychoactive effect is THC. As indicated earlier, THC is
available in synthetic form and is available in pill by prescription under the trade name
Marinol. There is a dispute between the parties as to whether Marinol is effective in
treating seizures associated with epilepsy or any of the other symptoms of diseases for
which patients have resorted to marihuana such as glaucoma and AIDS.
[43] Other cannabinoids may have anti-seizure properties. One of the most promising
may be cannabidiol (CBD). CBD does not have a psychoactive side effect. It is not
available by prescription. The studies that have been done indicate that the cannabinoids
increase the effectiveness of conventional drugs used to treat epilepsy and are not a
replacement for those drugs. The goal for effective treatment of epilepsy is to maintain a
steady blood level of medication.
[44] The Crown’s witness, Dr. Kalant, did, in general, provide strong support for the
respondent’s position that marihuana does have therapeutic properties for treating
epilepsy and other illnesses. He testified, for example, that “there is a lot of evidence
showing a variety of cannabinoids, that is the pure compounds contained in and extracted
from cannabis, do have anti-seizure activity”. Most of this evidence has come from
animal studies. He testified that of the various cannabinoids tested the most promising
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one was CBD. It has at least as much anti-convulsant effect as THC but is free of the
psychoactive effects. Further, research shows that tolerance to the anti-convulsant action
of THC occurs very quickly, “in a matter of days”, so it loses its effect. This does not
happen with CBD. As well, there is a simpler dose response relationship with CBD,
meaning the more that is given, the greater the effect. With THC, while low doses may
be good at controlling seizures, high doses can produce seizures. As he pointed out, this
makes smoking marihuana that contains both THC and CBD a problematic delivery
system, especially since smoked marihuana contains more THC than CBD. He
emphasized that not enough human studies had been done. One good human study done
by the Cunha group found that pure CBD taken with patients’ regular medication
improved the condition of all but one of the epileptic patients.
[45] Dr. Kalant also highlighted one of the paradoxical consequences of the drug laws.
Marinol, which has these various side effects, especially that it causes the psychoactive
effects of marihuana, is available in Canada while CBD, which does not have these side
effects, is not. As he said:
I’m not sure why not because since it is essentially free of
psycho-active effect and it has a well demonstrated antiepileptic
activity, I should think that it would be well
worthwhile to do clinical trials and I really just don’t
understand why there has been no further clinical testing
since the 1980 [Cunha] study.
Page: 23
[46] The defence witness, Dr. Morgan, testified that marihuana has been found useful
for treatment of acute nausea and vomiting, as results, for example, from chemotherapy,
and Marinol was originally approved for this purpose by the government. Smoking
marihuana has been found to be effective in lowering fluid pressure in the eyes of
patients with glaucoma. Marihuana is also effective in promoting weight gain and
increase of appetite, which is particularly important, for example, for patients with AIDS
who are suffering from HIV Related Wasting Syndrome. Marihuana was found to give
relief to patients with pathologically elevated muscle tone such as patients with multiple
sclerosis or spinal cord damage leading to spastic paralysis of the limbs. Marihuana is
also an analgesic. Finally, marihuana has been found to have anti-seizure properties and
thus is used by persons with epilepsy, like Parker. According to Dr. Morgan, there were
a number of studies showing that THC or CBD have quite pronounced anti-epileptic
activity. Dr. Morgan referred to the Cunha study and other literature suggesting that
CBD was as effective as or more effective than THC in this respect. Dr. Morgan also
referred to anecdotal reports of the effectiveness of marihuana for epileptics. In his view,
marihuana is an effective anti-epileptic medication for some individuals.
[47] Dr. Morgan reviewed the side effects of the conventional medication that the
respondent was taking. Dilantin, one of the most common drugs used to treat epilepsy,
can produce sedation and drowsiness so the police have arrested patients because the
police believe they are intoxicated. As well, the dose that produces the therapeutic effect
Page: 24
is very close to the toxic dose. In chronic use, it can produce gingival hyperplasia,
overgrowth of the gums, which requires surgery to correct. It has also been known to
produce damage to the brain and liver. In general, it is a dangerous drug. Another drug
used by Parker, Primidone, metabolizes in the body to Phenobarbital and has the same
side effects, namely, drowsiness, sedation and severe dysfunction. Another drug,
Depakene, can produce outright failure of the liver and patients have been known to die
from its effect. It also has adverse effects on the foetus of a pregnant woman.
[48] On the other hand, marihuana, although it has a variety of effects in humans, has
no overdose liability. There has never been a proven overdose death caused by
marihuana in humans. Unlike the conventional medications, marihuana has an extremely
wide safety margin. There is no reliable evidence that even chronic use of marihuana has
an adverse impact on cognition or memory. Marihuana is not known to harm the foetus.
Since marihuana and tobacco smoke are similar in character, it can harm the lungs.
However, a regular marihuana smoker, even a therapeutic marihuana smoker, smokes
much less than a tobacco smoker (three to five marihuana cigarettes a day compared to
30 to 50 tobacco cigarettes) and therefore inhales much less smoke. There is, therefore,
reason to believe that the marihuana user will not suffer as much pulmonary harm as
tobacco smokers. There are no reports of marihuana-only smokers developing
emphysema or lung cancer.
Page: 25
[49] According to Dr. Morgan, Marinol is not very effective because the THC is
destroyed the first time it passes through the liver. Thus, only about 5% reaches the
blood stream. Much more of the smoked marihuana becomes available to the body.
Marinol is also essentially useless for acute situations. Smoked marihuana, on the other
hand, can be used by persons who feel nausea coming over them, because it delivers the
THC quickly and more effectively than Marinol. Marihuana gives acute relief of nausea
and vomiting. Marinol is also very expensive. Marihuana is more effective, more
efficient and much cheaper. Finally, Marinol, since it only contains THC, is of no use to
individuals, particularly epileptic patients, who benefit from CBD.
[50] In summary, Dr. Kalant was wary of smoking as a way of delivering the
therapeutic benefits of cannabis. He demonstrated greater concern about the risks from
smoking marihuana, was concerned that smoking marihuana was a very inexact way to
deliver the drug and that a very large amount of marihuana would have to be smoked to
keep a therapeutic level of CBD in the patient’s bloodstream. He was, in general, more
cautious about the long-term effects of marihuana use because of the absence of research.
Dr. Morgan was less concerned about the possible harmful side effects of smoking
marihuana. He tended to discount the risks and dangers and thus could see little, if any,
reason for refusing patients who need access to the drug.
Page: 26
[51] Dr. Morgan filed a further affidavit on the appeal and Dr. Kalant filed an affidavit
in response. In his affidavit,4 Dr. Morgan states that there have been no striking
pharmacological advances in the treatment of epilepsy since the trial and that the
respondent remains among the minority of sufferers who “are clearly not fully responsive
to conventional pharmacological treatment for his condition”. As to the use of marihuana
to treat epilepsy, Dr. Morgan referred to studies released since the trial. A study by the
British Medical Association entitled “Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis” concluded that
cannabinoids appear to be effective for a number of ailments including epilepsy and as an
anti-nauseant and while further research was needed, “cannabinoids have a margin of
safety superior to many conventional drugs”. In his affidavit, Dr. Kalant fairly points out
that the BMA study referred to the therapeutic benefits of pure cannabinoids and that the
study does not recommend the use of smoked marihuana except for terminally ill
patients. Of course, this overlooks the fact that there is no legal source for the
cannabinoids, other than THC (Marinol).
[52] Dr. Morgan also referred to the status of research specifically concerning CBD.
He stated that animal studies and a few human studies have indicated that CBD, not
THC, may be the therapeutically active cannabinoid for treating epilepsy and this is a
reason why Marinol does not answer the needs of some patients. He referred to a report
4 The Crown objected to certain parts of the Morgan affidavit that referred to material that could have been
produced at trial. I have not found it necessary to rely upon any of the objected-to material.
Page: 27
by the United States Institute of Medicine. In general, that report recommended much
more extensive study of the possible therapeutic effect of marihuana and the
cannabinoids on a long list of illnesses. With respect to CBD, the report noted that the
few human studies that had been done were likely too small to demonstrate efficacy and
concluded that to date the potential anti-epileptic activity of CBD is not promising. The
study emphasized that smoked marihuana is not recommended because of the risk factors
(from smoking) but the authors also made these reasonable observations:
The goal of clinical trials of smoked marijuana would not be
to develop marijuana as a licensed drug, but rather as a first
step towards the possible development of nonsmoked, rapidonset
cannabinoid delivery systems. However, it will likely
be many years before a safe and effective cannabinoid
delivery system, such as an inhaler, will be available for
patients. In the meantime, there are patients with debilitating
symptoms for whom smoked marijuana might provide relief.
The use of smoked marijuana for those patients should weigh
both the expected efficacy of marijuana and ethical issues in
patient care, including providing information about the
known and suspected risks of smoked marijuana use.
And
Until a non-smoked, rapid-onset cannabinoid drug delivery
system becomes available, we acknowledged that there is no
clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions
that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or
AIDS wasting. One possible approach is to treat patients as
n-of-1 clinical trials, in which patients are fully informed of
their status as experimental subjects using a harmful drug
delivery system, and in which their condition is closely
monitored and documented under medical supervision,
thereby increasing the knowledge base of the risks and
Page: 28
benefits of marijuana use under such conditions. [Emphasis
added.]
[53] Dr. Morgan also discussed other studies of more general application. He referred
to a symposium of the Society for Neuroscience on “Marijuana and Analgesia” which
presented strong evidence that cannabinoids had direct diminishing effects on pain
signals in animals. Dr. Kalant reasonably points out that the analegisic effect of
cannabinoids described in the study is “well demonstrated, but it does not require the
smoking of cannabis”. Of course, again, this does not seem to meet the problem that
these other cannabinoids are apparently not available in Canada.
[54] At trial, the defence called evidence from persons suffering from glaucoma and
epilepsy who have used marihuana to treat their systems. The defence also called
Dr. John Goodhue, a general practitioner doing primary care in Toronto for persons who
are HIV positive. Some of his patients have developed AIDS. He testified that some of
his patients have successfully used smoked marihuana to treat the side effects from the
many drugs AIDS patients must take.
[55] Based on the evidence adduced at trial, the trial judge found that the defence had
established that smoking marihuana has a therapeutic effect in the treatment of nausea
and vomiting particularly related to chemotherapy, intraocular pressure from glaucoma,
Page: 29
muscle spasticity from spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches,
epileptic seizures and chronic pain. He accepted Parker’s evidence as to the therapeutic
effect of smoking marihuana in controlling his seizures. He also accepted that Parker’s
cultivation of marihuana was incidental to his need to possess marihuana for its
therapeutic use for the treatment of his epilepsy. By cultivating marihuana he could
control its quality. It was also an economic necessity since he has only disability benefits
from the Canada Pension Plan to live on. He cannot afford to pay illicit street prices to
obtain marihuana. The trial judge found as a fact that Parker had established he could
best control his epileptic seizures through a combination of prescribed medications and
the smoking of marihuana.
[56] At trial, the Crown argued that Parker had not shown that other legal means were
not available to control his seizures. Crown counsel argued that Parker failed to seek
sufficient medical attention, failed to request a prescription for Marinol, and failed to
have his blood levels monitored by regular blood tests. The trial judge stated that he
could “not accept” any of these failures as being supported by the evidence. He held that
Parker had been receiving regular medical supervision for his prescribed drugs since
1969. He found that Parker had not sought a Marinol prescription because synthetic THC
was not effective for him as demonstrated in the Addiction Research Foundation study.
The drug reaches his blood stream much faster when it is inhaled. Further, Marinol does
not contain CBD, which appears to have additional therapeutic value for him. Finally,
Page: 30
the trial judge concluded that Parker does have regular blood work done during numerous
emergency hospital admissions and regular medical visits. The trial judge concluded that
he “found no basis on which to fault Mr. Parker for his management of his serious
medical condition”.
[57] The trial judge found that smoking marihuana is more efficient and at least five
times faster in delivering THC and CBD to the blood stream than oral medication and, for
people like Parker, more effective.
(iv) The regulation of drugs in Canada: Legal means
for obtaining marihuana as medicine
(a) The evidence at trial
[58] As indicated, there was evidence that Marinol is available in Canada by
prescription. Leslie Rowsell, the director of the Bureau of Drug Surveillance, a division
of Health Canada, testified at the trial about the lawful means of obtaining marihuana.
There is no person authorized to distribute raw marihuana. Mr. Rowsell testified that,
while it would be open to a physician to prescribe marihuana, the Canadian government
would not look favourably upon a physician who did so and, in any event, no pharmacy
could legally fill the prescription.
[59] Mr. Rowsell gave evidence as to the method by which a new drug may be
approved by the Bureau. A protocol to expedite the availability of new drugs formerly
Page: 31
called the Emergency Drug Release Programme, now the Compassionate Use
Programme, by which certain drugs were made available for the treatment of AIDS,
would not be available since the programme does not apply to narcotics.5
[60] The other alternatives were for a person, usually a large drug company, to apply
for a Drug Identification Number (D.I.N.) or for a physician to request permission to
conduct a clinical trial. It is fair to say that neither alternative was a practical solution for
Parker. Even the less costly clinical trial method would still require expenditure of
hundreds of thousands of dollars and depend on a clinician willing to set up a clinical trial
and the respondent then being selected as one of the participants. No one has applied for
a D.I.N. to market marihuana and apparently no one has applied to do a clinical study of
marihuana. Since marihuana does not have a D.I.N., it is not approved for dispensing by
pharmacists. Other more dangerous narcotics such as heroin can be prescribed by a
physician and dispensed by a pharmacy, albeit heroin can only be used in a hospital
setting. The Bureau has not investigated the potential medicinal benefits of marihuana.
[61] At trial, neither Mr. Rowsell nor anyone else mentioned the possibility of an
exemption from the marihuana prohibition through an application for a ministerial
5 The Crown submits that Mr. Rowsell is in error in this respect and it would be possible for someone to
obtain a licence under the Regulations for the purposes of the programme. The Crown nevertheless concedes that no
firm has been licensed to produce and distribute marihuana.
Page: 32
exemption under s. 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The trial judge
accordingly made no findings in relation to that section.
(b) The evidence on appeal
[62] Parker filed an affidavit from Eugene Oscapella, a director of the Canadian
Foundation for Drug Policy. Mr. Oscapella had testified at the Clay trial. In the
affidavit, he provides information about Health Canada’s use of the exemption in s. 56 of
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In May 1999, Health Canada released the
Interim Guidance Document that outlines the process for Canadians to obtain exemptions
under s. 56. This document is attached as an exhibit to Mr. Oscapella’s affidavit. Among
other things, the applicant must identify:
[The] name and address of the fabricator or distributor who is
licensed under CDSA, the Narcotic Control Regulations and
the Food and Drug Regulations and who has the capacity to
fabricate and distribute in accordance with international drug
treaties, if applicable.
[63] Mr. Oscapella also attached a recent government document entitled “Marijuana for
Medicinal Purposes: A Status Report”. This report states that “the safety and efficacy of
marijuana as a medicine has not been demonstrated in any country of the world” and
therefore the first step is to gather scientific information and conduct clinical trials. The
document states that the government is considering a proposal from a pharmaceutical
company to conduct trials on inhaled cannabinoids. There was no indication when and if
Page: 33
this proposal would be approved. The document also refers to the Compassionate Use
Programme, but points out that there is no “licit, licensed, non-governmental supplier
anywhere from whom research-grade marijuana can be obtained” under that programme.
This document indicates that as of June 3, 1999, just over 30 requests have been made
under s. 56 for marihuana for medical purposes. According to the document:
After all of the required information has been submitted, the
Department aims to review the request within 15 working
days. The Minister’s decision to exercise discretion for each
case is made in the context of the recommendation formulated
as part of the review and the circumstances of each individual
applicant.
[64] In addition, the document indicates that Health Canada, “will determine, on a
case-by-case basis, the necessity of imposing other terms and conditions, particularly for
use within the research context”.
[65] According to Mr. Oscapella, the Minister of Health had granted two cannabis
exemptions under s. 56. It was unclear what had happened to the other applicants or the
15 working day guideline for processing applications, except that the Minister may have
required further information, notwithstanding that according to Health Canada 15
applications were said to have been sufficiently well-detailed to be assessed as of
August 26, 1999. Mr. Oscapella was cross-examined on his affidavit on September 21,
Page: 34
1999. He was told by officials at Health Canada that as of that date no further
exemptions had been granted by the Minister.
[66] The day prior to the hearing of this appeal, the Minister issued a press release
concerning the granting of further s. 56 exemptions. At the opening of the appeal we
asked Crown counsel if he wished to apply for an adjournment to file fresh evidence on
the operation of s. 56. He declined the invitation.
THE TRIAL JUDGE’S FINDINGS ON THE LAW
[67] The trial judge held that Parker had shown that there was a risk of deprivation of
his right to life, liberty or security of the person by the marihuana prohibition. Most
obviously, there was the risk of deprivation of liberty should Parker be convicted of an
offence under the former Narcotic Control Act or the Controlled Drugs and Substances
Act. There was an additional risk of injury or death to Parker because he would not have
access to marihuana in the prison setting to prevent seizures. Thus, prison would be a
particularly dangerous place for Parker because of his medical condition. The anxiety
about worrying about a seizure would “be a cruel and unusual punishment in itself”. In
terms of s. 7, jail not only would result in a deprivation of liberty, but also would put his
life at risk and threaten the security of his person.
Page: 35
[68] The trial judge was satisfied that the possibility of Parker’s obtaining Marinol in
prison was not an answer since he was satisfied on the evidence that synthetic THC was
not effective for Parker and he would need to receive CBD. He was also of the view that
due process through the trial procedure did not afford Parker sufficient protection.
Barring a medical discovery, Parker has a chronic need for marihuana and is therefore
subject to arrest, search and seizure, and detention every day. The fact that he might
succeed in defending a prosecution on the basis of a necessity defence, as he had in 1987,
was no answer since each prosecution entailed financial cost, stress, uncertainty, arrest
and loss of his stock of marihuana and marihuana plants thus interfering with his security
of the person. The evidence established that Parker was traumatized by the police raids
on his home.
[69] The trial judge was satisfied that the deprivation of life, liberty or security of the
person was contrary to the principles of fundamental justice. He held that it is an aspect
of fundamental justice that a person “possess an autonomy to make decisions of personal
importance”, including decisions as to health. Serious decisions regarding the
management of illness and medical disability in consultation with a physician fall within
this area of personal autonomy. Parker has made such a decision respecting his use of
marihuana, the use of marihuana has allowed him to control his illness with some success
and his decision has been supported by his physicians over the years. The trial judge
made this critical finding:
Page: 36
I find he has established that this control is best achieved
through a combination of prescribed medications and the
smoking of marihuana. For this Applicant/Accused to be
deprived of his smokable marihuana is to be deprived of
something of fundamental personal importance.
[70] The trial judge found that the marihuana prohibition is overbroad because the
legislation does not provide a procedural process for an exemption for an individual in
Parker’s circumstances. It does not accord with fundamental justice to criminalize a
person suffering a serious chronic medical disability for possessing a vitally helpful
substance not legally available to him in Canada. While the purpose of the Narcotic
Control Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is to safeguard the health of
Canadians, that legislation has the dramatically opposite effect for Parker. The
legislation prevents him from having access to a relatively safe drug that has
demonstrated therapeutic benefit to him.
[71] In response to the Crown’s argument that a continued marihuana prohibition was
required so that Canada fulfilled its international obligations, the trial judge pointed out
that, for example, the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs
and Psychotropic Substances provides that the measures adopted by the contracting states
to criminalize marihuana possession and prevent illicit cultivation must be “necessary”
and respect fundamental human rights.
Page: 37
[72] The Crown conceded before the trial judge that if he found a violation of Parker’s
rights under s. 7, the violation could not be saved by s. 1 of the Charter.
[73] The trial judge adopted the following remedy. He concluded that rather than
striking down the prohibition the proper remedy was to read in, pursuant to s. 52 of the
Constitution Act, 1982, an exemption for “persons possessing or cultivating Cannabis
(marihuana) for their personal medically approved use”. This exemption applied to the
marihuana possession and cultivation provisions of the former Narcotic Control Act and
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, being ss. 3(1) and 6(1) of the former Act and
ss. 4(1) and 7(1) of the latter. Parker was also entitled to the personal remedy, under
s. 24(1) of the Charter of Rights, of a stay of proceedings of the charges laid against him
and the return of the plants seized during the September 1997 arrest.
THE ISSUES
[74] The Crown makes the following arguments:
1. The conduct in respect of which Parker seeks Charter
protection is outside the scope of s. 7 of the Charter.
2. The trial judge erred in finding that Parker had no legal
alternative to control his epilepsy. This submission identifies
two errors: (i) that Parker had not shown that Marinol could
not treat his epilepsy and (ii) that Parker had not shown that if
he maintained a proper regime of conventional medication
and regular attendance at a specialist he could not control his
epilepsy. The Crown argues that the trial judge erred by
reversing the burden of proof by requiring it to establish that
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Parker’s rights were not infringed and that any infringement
was consistent with the principles of fundamental justice.
3. The trial judge erred in finding the legislation was
overbroad because there was a possibility for legally
obtaining marihuana. The fact that no one had taken the steps
to have marihuana approved through the legal procedure set
out in the legislation did not render the legislation
unconstitutional.
4. The trial judge erred in finding that the Controlled
Drugs and Substances Act violated Parker’s rights because
Parker could have applied for an exemption under s. 56 of the
Act but had failed to do so and that the process for granting
exemptions under s. 56 conforms with the principles of
fundamental justice.
5. Assuming there was a breach of s. 7, the trial judge
erred in his choice of remedy.
ANALYSIS
Introduction
[75] In the course of these reasons, I intend to address the arguments made by the
Crown. However, it will be more convenient to deal with those arguments through an
analysis that is structured around s. 7. Accordingly, I will consider these issues under the
following headings. These headings should be understood as dealing with the therapeutic
use of marihuana, not the broader claims dealt with in the Clay case.
1. The context
2. The right to liberty implicated by the marihuana
prohibition
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3. The right to security of the person implicated by the
marihuana prohibition
4. Does the marihuana prohibition deprive Parker or
persons similarly situated of their rights to liberty and security
of the person?
5. The principles of fundamental justice and the right to
liberty and security of the person
6. Is there a different analysis of fundamental justice
under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act?
7. Can any violations be saved by s. 1?
8. The appropriate remedy for any violations
1. The context
[76] This case depends upon the interpretation and application of s. 7 of the Charter:
7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the
person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in
accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
[77] In the companion case of R. v. Clay, I have already dealt with the submission that,
broadly speaking, the marihuana prohibition violates s. 7 because it criminalizes people
who have done nothing wrong. This case raises the narrower issue of the impact upon
individuals claiming a need for marihuana as a matter of medical necessity, not
recreational use.
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[78] This aspect of the case raises an issue akin to the standing issue that I have
touched upon in the Clay case. The Crown’s approach to this appeal was to try to
demonstrate that as a matter of fact Parker did not need marihuana to control his epilepsy.
I deal with that issue below. However, it is also open to Parker to challenge the validity
of the legislation on the basis that it was overbroad or unconstitutional in some other way
in its application to other persons. The Crown respondent appeared to concede this in the
Clay appeal. In any event, that conclusion follows from the decisions of the Supreme
Court of Canada in R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295 and R. v.
Morgentaler. In both cases, the accused were held to have standing to challenge the law
under which they were charged although the alleged infringement of the Charter
concerned the rights of some other person.
[79] The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Morgentaler is of particular
assistance because the issues in that case were similar to the issues here. The accused
physicians relied upon s. 7 of the Charter to challenge a criminal offence based upon the
interference with the health of pregnant women seeking abortions. In his dissenting
reasons at p. 133, McIntryre J. suggested that the question of the s. 7 violation was
hypothetical since, “[t]here is no female person involved in the case who has been denied
a therapeutic abortion”. However, Dickson C.J.C. was satisfied that the accused
physicians had standing. As he said at p. 63:
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As an aside, I should note that the appellants have standing to
challenge an unconstitutional law if they are liable to
conviction for an offence under that law even though the
unconstitutional effects are not directed at the appellants per
se: R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., at p. 313. The standing of the
appellants was not challenged by the Crown.
[80] Therefore, it is open to Parker to challenge the validity of the marihuana
prohibition not only on the basis that it infringes his s. 7 rights because of his particular
illness, but that it also infringes the rights of others suffering other illnesses.
[81] The trial judge identified a number of ways in which Parker’s liberty and security
interests were affected by the marihuana prohibition. In one sense, it would have been
sufficient to identify the clearest of those infringements, the possibility of imprisonment
upon conviction for the offence. This interference with Parker’s liberty interest would
conceivably be sufficient to require a determination of whether the deprivation was in
accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
[82] However, in my view, this would not adequately capture the defects in the
legislation and would fail to come to grips with the context in which the issue arises. As
Wilson J. said in Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (Attorney General), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1326
at 1355-56 a right or freedom may have different meanings in different contexts. “The
contextual approach attempts to bring into sharp relief the aspect of the right or freedom
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which is truly at stake in the case as well as the relevant aspects of any values in
competition with it.” Thus, the importance of the right or freedom must be assessed in
context rather than in the abstract and its purpose must be ascertained in context.
[83] Although Wilson J. was particularly concerned about the importance of context for
the s. 1 analysis, context is important for analyzing a right, such as s. 7, that to some
extent contains its own balancing test and which may or may not be amenable to further
balancing under s. 1. The dominant aspect of the context in this case is the claim by
Parker and other patients that they require access to marihuana for medical reasons. They
do not, like the appellant in the Clay case, assert a desire for marihuana for recreational
use. Parker does not claim a right to use marihuana on the basis of some kind of abstract
notion of personal autonomy. The validity of the marihuana prohibition must be assessed
in that particular context. The context here is not simply that the marihuana prohibition
exposes Parker, like all other users and growers, to criminal prosecution and possible loss
of liberty. Rather, Parker alleges that the prohibition interferes with his health and
therefore his security interest as well as his liberty interest.
[84] Related to this aspect of the case is that Parker does not seek to avoid the
marihuana prohibition to assist in the treatment of some mild discomfort. If it is not
properly controlled, his seizure activity can be life-threatening. Further, the evidence
concerning the use of marihuana to assist in the treatment of other illnesses centred on
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patients with profound symptoms: AIDS patients suffering from wasting disease, cancer
patients receiving chemotherapy and patients suffering from glaucoma, to name just a
few.
[85] Having said that, it must be acknowledged that the scope of the liberty and
security interests protected by s. 7 is still a matter of considerable debate. See for
example, New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. G. (J.) (1999),
177 D.L.R. (4th) 124 (S.C.C.), per Lamer C.J.C. at 146. As I will explain, it is important
for the purposes of this case that, although Parker raises important concerns about health
and access to drugs for therapeutic purposes, those concerns are raised in the criminal
context.
[86] As framed by the appellant, the question of whether Parker’s conduct attracts s. 7
protection is intertwined with its assertion that Parker had a legal alternative to
marihuana, either Marinol or better management through conventional medication, and
thus his choice to smoke marihuana is nothing more than a personal preference. Thus,
the Crown asserts that the marihuana prohibition does not affect Parker’s physical or
mental integrity in any fundamental way and so his security of the person is not engaged.
[87] I cannot agree with this characterization of the issues for a number of reasons. I
am satisfied that the trial judge had ample evidence from which he could conclude that
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Parker was not asserting a mere preference for an illegal treatment over a legal one. I
will deal with that below. The Crown’s focus on the evidence respecting Parker also fails
to come to grips with the compelling evidence placed before the trial judge that
marihuana is of therapeutic benefit to other patients.
2. The right to liberty implicated by the marihuana prohibition
[88] The leading decision on the Charter implications where medical treatment and the
criminal law intersect is R. v. Morgentaler. In that case, three judges wrote for the fiveperson
majority, each adopting different reasons for finding that the abortion provisions
of the Criminal Code infringed the guarantee to liberty or security under s. 7 of the
Charter. Wilson J. took the broadest view as she found that the decision of a woman to
terminate her pregnancy is protected by the right to liberty. She held, at p. 166, that the
right to liberty, “properly construed, grants the individual a degree of autonomy in
making decisions of fundamental personal importance” and again, at p. 171, that the right
to liberty “guarantees to every individual a degree of personal autonomy over important
decisions intimately affecting their private lives”. The woman’s decision to terminate a
pregnancy is within this protected zone of personal autonomy, since, as she wrote at
p. 171, it “will have profound psychological, economic and social consequences” for her.
Dickson C.J.C., writing for himself and Lamer J., found it unnecessary to consider this
aspect of liberty since he preferred to rest his decision on the right to security of the
person. Beetz J., writing for himself and Estey J., also based his decision on security of
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the person. He noted, however, at p. 112 in his discussion of the principles of
fundamental justice that certain aspects of the law that he found did comport with
fundamental justice, such as a second opinion as to the need for the abortion, “would
need to be reevaluated if a right of access to abortion is founded upon the right to
‘liberty’ in s. 7 of the Charter”.
[89] In subsequent cases, a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada has accepted that
liberty includes a degree of personal autonomy over fundamental personal decisions. The
most restrictive view is that of Lamer C.J.C., and summarized in his reasons in B. (R.) v.
Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315 at 341: “the
principle that must be adopted is that generally speaking s. 7 was not designed to protect
even fundamental individual freedoms if those freedoms have no connection with the
physical dimension of the concept of ‘liberty’”. He reiterated this view in his reasons in
New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. G. (J.). Also see his
earlier reasons in Reference Re ss. 193 and 195.1(1)(c) of the Criminal Code (Man.),
[1990] 1 S.C.R. 1123, especially at 1174-75.
[90] The broader view was adopted by La Forest J., writing for himself, L’Heureux-
Dubé, Gonthier and McLachlin JJ. on this issue in B. (R.) at p. 368:
Freedom of the individual to do what he or she wishes must,
in any organized society, be subjected to numerous
constraints for the common good. The state undoubtedly has
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the right to impose many types of restraints on individual
behaviour, and not all limitations will attract Charter
scrutiny. On the other hand, liberty does not mean mere
freedom from physical restraint. In a free and democratic
society, the individual must be left room for personal
autonomy to live his or her own life and to make decisions
that are of fundamental personal importance. [Emphasis
added.]
[91] L’Heureux-Dubé J., writing for herself and Gonthier and McLachlin JJ. in G. (J.)
at para. 117, again adopted this position in the context of a mother’s right to legal
representation at a hearing that would give the Minister of Health and Community
Services custody of her children for a further six months. She also noted that
Bastarache J.A., as he then was, had taken a broader approach in his dissenting opinion in
the Court of Appeal. Bastarache J.A. wrote as follows at (1997), 145 D.L.R. (4th) 349
(N.B.C.A.) at 368:
No clear majority exists on the question of the applicability of
s. 7 to parental control. I have already indicated that I
personally favor a more generous interpretation of the
“liberty” interest than that proposed by Chief Justice Lamer. I
would however restrict the scope of the “liberty” interest in s.
7 to essential personal rights that are inherent to the
individual and consistent with the essential values of our
society, as suggested by La Forest J. at p. 389 [in B. (R.) v.
Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto]. I would
hold that this is a case where a close analogy can be made
with the application of s. 7 to the criminal law and where an
extension of the traditional interpretation of the “liberty”
interest advocated by Lamer C.J. is required.
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[92] Accordingly, I believe that I am justified in considering Parker’s liberty interest in
at least two ways. First, the threat of criminal prosecution and possible imprisonment
itself amounts to a risk of deprivation of liberty and therefore must accord with the
principles of fundamental justice. Second, as this case arises in the criminal law context
(in that the state seeks to limit a person’s choice of treatment through threat of criminal
prosecution), liberty includes the right to make decisions of fundamental personal
importance. Deprivation of this right must also accord with the principles of fundamental
justice. I have little difficulty in concluding that the choice of medication to alleviate the
effects of an illness with life-threatening consequences is such a decision. Below, I will
discuss the principles of fundamental justice that would justify state interference with that
choice.
3. The right to security of the person implicated by
the marihuana prohibition
[93] This case also clearly implicates the right to security of the person of Parker and
others who claim to need marihuana for therapeutic purposes. In Morgentaler,
Dickson C.J.C. held at p. 56 that “state interference with bodily integrity and serious
state-imposed psychological stress, at least in the criminal law context, constitute a
breach of security of the person”. Beetz J. held in the same case at p. 90 that security of
the person “must include a right to access to medical treatment for a condition
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representing a danger to life or health without fear of criminal sanction”. Wilson J. held
at p. 173 that the security of the person guarantee protects “both the physical and
psychological integrity of the individual”.
[94] In R. v. Monney (1999), 133 C.C.C. (3d) 129 (S.C.C.) at 156, Iacobucci J. held,
relying upon Singh v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1985] 1
S.C.R. 177, that “state action which has the likely effect of impairing a person’s health
engages the fundamental right under s. 7 to security of the person”.
[95] In G. (J), Lamer C.J.C. writing for all members of the court on this issue held, at
p. 147 that, “the right to security of the person does not protect the individual from the
ordinary stresses and anxieties that a person of reasonable sensibility would suffer as a
result of government action”. However, he held at p. 147 that it does protect against
“serious and profound effect on a person’s psychological integrity”. The effects of the
state interference “must be assessed objectively, with a view to their impact on the
psychological integrity of a person of reasonable sensibility” (at p. 147).
[96] The Supreme Court also had to deal with s. 7 in the context of the criminal law
and medical treatment in Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), a case
concerning the validity of the assisted suicide provisions of the Criminal Code and their
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impact on a terminally ill woman. Sopinka J., speaking for the majority of the court at
pp. 587-88, summarized security of the person in that context as follows:
In my view, then, the judgments of this Court in Morgentaler
can be seen to encompass a notion of personal autonomy
involving, at the very least, control over one’s bodily integrity
free from state interference and freedom from state-imposed
psychological and emotional stress. In Reference re: ss. 193
and 195.1(1)(c) of Criminal Code (Man.), supra, Lamer J. (as
he then was) also expressed this view, stating at p. 106 that
“[s]ection 7 is also implicated when the state restricts
individuals’ security of the person by interfering with, or
removing from them, control over their physical or mental
integrity”. There is no question, then, that personal autonomy,
at least with respect to the right to make choices concerning
one’s own body, control over one’s physical and
psychological integrity, and basic human dignity are
encompassed within security of the person, at least to the
extent of freedom from criminal prohibitions which interfere
with these. [Emphasis added.]
[97] In view of these very broad statements, I conclude that deprivation by means of a
criminal sanction6 of access to medication reasonably required for the treatment of a
medical condition that threatens life or health constitutes a deprivation of security of the
person. Such a deprivation fits easily within any of the above statements. It falls
squarely within the holding by Beetz J. in Morgentaler. Depriving a patient of
6 The much more difficult question whether security of the person would be engaged if the lack of access is
due not to a criminal sanction but government inaction is not before the court and should be left to another day. It is
raised only in passing in this case by the Minister’s s. 56 approval, which requires the applicant to disclose the legal
source for the marihuana.
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medication in such circumstances, through a criminal sanction, also constitutes a serious
interference with both physical and psychological integrity.
4. Does the marihuana prohibition deprive Parker or
persons similarly situated of their rights to liberty
and security of the person?
(i) Introduction
[98] In my view, Parker demonstrated at trial that the prohibition on the possession and
cultivation of marihuana for personal use to treat his epilepsy deprived him of his rights
to liberty and security of the person.
[99] The appellant argues that the trial judge’s findings are tainted by error because he
placed the burden on the Crown to prove that there was no deprivation of his rights. This
submission appears to be based, in part, on a statement by the trial judge that he could not
“accept” the Crown’s submissions that Parker failed to seek sufficient medical attention,
failed to request a prescription for Marinol and failed to have his blood levels monitored
on a regular basis. The trial judge’s reasons for judgment, read as a whole, do not
disclose any error as to the burden of proof. The trial judge began his analysis of s. 7 by
noting that the onus to establish the violation rested with Parker. He then went on to
make the factual and legal findings I have set out above. I have undertaken the factual
review to also show that the trial judge’s findings are supported by the evidence. It
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remains to situate those findings within the legal analysis of liberty and security of the
person.
[100] Before doing so, I would make this comment. Much of the Crown’s submissions
in this court were an attempt to isolate various parts of the evidence. Thus, Mr. Wilson
referred to individual pieces of the expert evidence and contrasted them with Parker’s
evidence. As I have indicated, he placed a great deal of weight on the ARF study to
demonstrate that Parker had a legal alternative. However, the trial judge was required to
consider all of the evidence. He had the benefit of the testimony of Parker and the other
witnesses who gave viva voce testimony. That evidence established to the trial judge’s
satisfaction that Marinol was not a viable alternative for Parker and that he has received a
clear benefit from smoking marihuana that is unavailable to him through conventional
treatment alone. These factual findings, for which there is support in the evidence, are
entitled to deference by this court and I would not interfere with them.
(ii) Right to liberty
[101] I agree with the trial judge that the onus of establishing a violation of the right to
liberty is easily satisfied because upon conviction Parker is liable to imprisonment. The
trial judge went on to hold that the impact of incarceration was particularly severe for
Parker since, deprived of access to marihuana in the jail setting, he was at a real risk of
death or injury from seizures. Since any form of incarceration is sufficient to trigger this
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aspect of the right to liberty, I do not think it necessary or advisable to attempt to quantify
the severity of the deprivation. Like the trial judge, I would consider this collateral
consequence of deprivation of liberty, if necessary, as an aspect of security of the person.
[102] In my view, Parker has also established that the marihuana prohibition infringed
the second aspect of liberty that I have identified—the right to make decisions that are of
fundamental personal importance. As I have stated, the choice of medication to alleviate
the effects of an illness with life-threatening consequences is a decision of fundamental
personal importance. In my view, it ranks with the right to choose whether to take mindaltering
psychotropic drugs for treatment of mental illness, a right that Robins J.A. ranked
as “fundamental and deserving of the highest order of protection” in Fleming v. Reid
(1991), 4 O.R. (3d) 74 (Ont. C.A.) at 88.
[103] To intrude into that decision-making process through the threat of criminal
prosecution is a serious deprivation of liberty. For the purposes of this appeal, it is
unnecessary to decide whether the decision-making must meet some objective standard to
fall within this aspect of liberty. The evidence established that Parker’s choice was a
reasonable one. He has lived with this illness for many years. He has tried to treat the
illness through highly invasive surgery and continues to take conventional medication
notwithstanding the significant side effects. He has studied his illness, he has studied the
effects of marihuana, and he has produced a reasonable explanation for why Marinol is
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not an effective form of treatment. He has found relief from some of the debilitating
effects of the illness through smoking marihuana, a drug that, aside from the psychotropic
effect, has limited proven side effects in a mature adult. That drug helps protect him
from the serious consequences of seizures—consequences that could threaten his life and
heath. In those circumstances, a court should not be too quick to stigmatize his choice as
unreasonable.
[104] In view of my conclusion with respect to Parker’s liberty rights, it is not strictly
necessary to consider the situation of other persons seeking to use marihuana to alleviate
their symptoms from other serious, even terminal, disease. Suffice it to say that Parker
presented sufficient evidence that marihuana is a reasonable choice for those persons that
I would have found that their liberty interests are infringed by the marihuana prohibition.
(iii) Right to security of the person
[105] In his reasons, the trial judge focused on the impact of the criminal justice system
in considering Parker’s assertion that he was deprived of his security of the person. As I
mentioned, he noted the serious risk to Parker’s health if he were incarcerated without
access to marihuana. He also noted the psychological stress from the police raids upon
his home, the questioning, the arrest and the ultimate loss of his marihuana. I would
accept that protection from some of these stresses may constitute an aspect of security of
the person. However, concentrating only on these effects may miss the context in which
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this case arises and lead to a narrow, solely procedural, view of the principles of
fundamental justice. For example, the powers to search and to arrest upon reasonable and
probable grounds have generally been considered to accord with the principles of
fundamental justice. The exercise of those powers will have a different impact depending
upon the individual. However, as of yet, it has not been suggested that the principles of
fundamental justice require distinctions to be made depending on the personal make-up
of the suspect. Similarly, if this case were only about criminal procedure, the Crown
could argue that the right to a fair trial, including access to the common law necessity
defence, could provide Parker with fundamental justice. Accordingly, I would prefer to
rest my analysis upon security of the person as it was explained in Morgentaler,
Rodriguez and the other cases I have discussed above.
[106] In Morgentaler, Beetz J. summarized the right to security of the person as a right
to access to medical treatment for a condition representing a danger to life or health
without fear of criminal sanction. As he said at p. 90:
Generally speaking, the constitutional right to security of the
person must include some protection from state interference
when a person’s life or health is in danger. The Charter does
not, needless to say, protect men and women from even the
most serious misfortunes of nature. Section 7 cannot be
invoked simply because a person’s life or health is in danger.
The state can obviously not be said to have violated, for
example, a pregnant woman’s security of the person simply
on the basis that her pregnancy in and of itself represents a
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danger to her life or health. There must be state intervention
for “security of the person” in s. 7 to be violated.
If a rule of criminal law precludes a person from obtaining
appropriate medical treatment when his or her life or health is
in danger, then the state has intervened and this intervention
constitutes a violation of that man’s or that woman’s security
of the person. “Security of the person” must include a right of
access to medical treatment for a condition representing a
danger to life or health without fear of criminal sanction. If an
Act of Parliament forces a person whose life or health is in
danger to choose between, on the one hand, the commission
of a crime to obtain effective and timely medical treatment
and, on the other hand, inadequate treatment or no treatment
at all, the right to security of the person has been violated.
[Emphasis added.]
[107] That holding applies in this case. The state has not violated Parker’s rights simply
because epilepsy in and of itself represents a danger to his life or health. However, to
prevent his accessing a treatment by threat of criminal sanction constitutes a deprivation
of his security of the person. Based on the evidence, the marihuana laws force Parker to
choose between commission of a crime to obtain effective medical treatment and
inadequate treatment.
[108] In his reasons in Morgentaler, Dickson C.J.C. described the infringement of
security of the person in these terms at pp. 56-7:
At the most basic physical and emotional level, every
pregnant woman is told by the section that she cannot submit
to a generally safe medical procedure that might be of clear
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benefit to her unless she meets criteria entirely unrelated to
her own priorities and aspirations. Not only does the removal
of decision making power threaten women in a physical
sense; the indecision of knowing whether an abortion will be
granted inflicts emotional stress. Section 251 clearly
interferes with a woman’s bodily integrity in both a physical
and emotional sense. Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal
sanction, to carry a foetus to term unless she meets certain
criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a
profound interference with a woman’s body and thus a
violation of security of the person. Section 251, therefore, is
required by the Charter to comport with the principles of
fundamental justice. [Emphasis added.]
[109] The same may be said of the marihuana prohibition in this case. That prohibition
tells Parker that he cannot undertake a generally safe medical treatment that might be of
clear benefit to him. Under the former Narcotic Control Act there was no procedure that
he could effectively access that would allow him to grow or possess marihuana without
threat of criminal sanction. Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Crown
submits that there are lawful means by which he can possess marihuana. I will deal with
this aspect of the case below in considering the principles of fundamental justice and s. 1
of the Charter. It is sufficient to say that those procedures involve criteria unrelated to
Parker’s own priorities and aspirations. They involve criteria concerned with much
larger questions of drug policy and controls unrelated to Parker’s own needs.
[110] Finally, the marihuana prohibition infringes Parker’s security of the person in the
same way as explained by Sopinka J. in Rodriguez. That holding, similar to the holding
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of Beetz J. in Morgentaler, protects the right to make choices concerning one’s own body
and control over one’s physical and psychological integrity free from interference by
criminal prohibition. Preventing Parker from using marihuana to treat his condition by
threat of criminal prosecution constitutes an interference with his physical and
psychological integrity.
[111] Accordingly, Parker established that the marihuana prohibition in the two statutes
deprived him of his right to security of the person. Again, in light of this finding it is
unnecessary to consider the impact upon other patients seeking to use marihuana to treat
their illnesses. However, as with the right to liberty I would have found that Parker
established that the marihuana prohibition deprives other persons of their security of the
person because it prevents them on pain of criminal prosecution from using medication
found to be effective to treat the symptoms of their very serious illnesses.
5. The principles of fundamental justice
(i) Introduction
[112] In Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486 at 503, Lamer J. held that the
principles of fundamental justice “are to be found in the basic tenets of our legal system”.
According to Sopinka J. in Rodriguez at p. 591, they must not be so broad “as to be no
more than vague generalizations about what our society considers to be ethical or moral”.
This is an important qualification because it would be too easy to resolve this case simply
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by imposing a moral or ethical standard from one side or the other. Many would consider
it immoral to keep medicine from a patient with a serious illness. Others might consider
it unethical to expose anyone to the potential harm from a drug where the expert opinion
is unanimous that further research is required. Therefore, to quote Sopinka J. in
Rodriguez at p. 591, the principles of fundamental justice “must be capable of being
identified with some precision and applied to situations in a manner which yields an
understandable result”. They must be “legal principles”.
[113] In Rodriguez, Sopinka J. identified a principle of fundamental justice that, in my
view, has particular application to this case. He held at p. 594 that, “Where the
deprivation of the right in question does little or nothing to enhance the state’s interest
(whatever it may be), it seems to me that a breach of fundamental justice will be made
out, as the individual’s rights will have been deprived for no valid purpose.” Thus, in
determining whether there has been a breach of the principles of fundamental justice, it is
necessary to consider the state interest. As McLachlin J. said in Cunningham v. Canada,
[1993] 2 S.C.R. 143 at 151-52:
The principles of fundamental justice are concerned not only
with the interest of the person who claims his liberty has been
limited, but with the protection of society. Fundamental
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justice requires that a fair balance be struck between these
interests, both substantively and procedurally…7
[114] In Rodriguez, at p. 595, Sopinka J. characterized the issue as “whether the blanket
prohibition on assisted suicide is arbitrary or unfair in that it is unrelated to the state’s
interest in protecting the vulnerable, and that it lacks a foundation in the legal tradition
and societal beliefs which are said to be represented by the prohibition”. He then
engaged in a comprehensive review of the history of criminalization of assisted suicide,
the common-law right to refuse medical care and a review of legislation in other
countries in order to identify the state interest, the nature of the legal tradition and
societal beliefs at stake. From this analysis, he was able to determine whether the
deprivation of Ms. Rodriguez’s rights enhanced the state interests.
[115] In Morgentaler, Dickson C.J.C. identified a number of procedural deficiencies in
the therapeutic abortion provisions that may assist in understanding the principles of
fundamental justice that apply in this case. The therapeutic abortion committee could
issue a certificate to permit a therapeutic abortion if the continuation of the pregnancy
would be likely to endanger the life or “health” of the woman. Dickson C.J.C. held at
p. 69 that the absence of any clear legal standard to be applied by the committee in
7 The need to take into account state or societal interests under s. 7, especially where the court is asked to
conduct substantive review of legislation, is discussed more fully in this court’s decision in R. v. Pan (1999), 134
C.C.C. (3d) 1 (leave to appeal to S.C.C. granted January 27, 2000) at para. 177 – 187.
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making the determination as to whether the continuation of the pregnancy would
endanger the health of the woman was a “serious procedural flaw”. After reviewing
several other problems with the legislative scheme that contributed to unnecessary delay,
at pp. 72-3 he concluded that while Parliament must be given latitude to design an
appropriate procedural structure, if that structure is “so manifestly unfair, having regard
to the decisions it is called upon to make, as to violate the principles of fundamental
justice” [emphasis added by Dickson C.J.C.], that structure must be struck down. This
was the problem with the therapeutic abortion provisions of the Code. It contained so
many potential barriers to its own operation that “the defence it creates will in many
circumstances be practically unavailable to women who would prima facie qualify for the
defence, or at least would force such women to travel great distances at substantial
expense and inconvenience in order to benefit from a defence that is held out to be
generally available”.
[116] While Beetz J. did not agree that the health criterion created an unworkable
standard, at pp. 109-10 he too found a breach of the principles of fundamental justice in
the nature of the administrative structure mandated by the legislation. Adopting the same
test of “so manifestly unfair, having regard to the decisions it is called upon to make”,8 he
found that the scheme was made up of “unnecessary rules, which result in an additional
8 From R. v. Jones, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 284 at 304, per La Forest J.
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risk to the health of pregnant women”. It was thus manifestly unfair and did not conform
to the principles of fundamental justice. This unfairness was manifested in two ways:
some of the procedural requirements had no connection whatsoever with Parliament’s
objectives and others were manifestly unfair because they were not necessary to assure
that the objectives were met.
[117] To summarize, a brief review of the case law where the criminal law intersects
with medical treatment discloses at least these principles of fundamental justice:
(i) The principles of fundamental justice are breached
where the deprivation of the right in question does little or
nothing to enhance the state’s interest.
(ii) A blanket prohibition will be considered arbitrary or
unfair and thus in breach of the principles of fundamental
justice if it is unrelated to the state’s interest in enacting the
prohibition, and if it lacks a foundation in the legal tradition
and societal beliefs that are said to be represented by the
prohibition.
(iii) The absence of a clear legal standard may contribute to
a violation of fundamental justice.
(iv) If a statutory defence contains so many potential
barriers to its own operation that the defence it creates will in
many circumstances be practically unavailable to persons
who would prima facie qualify for the defence, it will be
found to violate the principles of fundamental justice.
(v) An administrative structure made up of unnecessary
rules, which result in an additional risk to the health of the
person, is manifestly unfair and does not conform to the
principles of fundamental justice.
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[118] Before turning to the application of these principles, I wish to make a few
comments about the relationship between s. 1 and s. 7 of the Charter. There was some
doubt whether a violation of s. 7 could be upheld as a reasonable limit under s. 1, absent
extraordinary circumstances such as war. However, in several recent cases the Supreme
Court of Canada has signalled that it may be possible to apply s. 1 in less exceptional
circumstances. For example, in R. v. Mills (1999), 139 C.C.C. (3d) 321 (S.C.C.) at
359-60 McLachlin and Iacobucci JJ. writing for the majority held as follows:
[65] It is also important to distinguish between balancing the
principles of fundamental justice under s. 7 and balancing
interests under s. 1 of the Charter. The s. 1 jurisprudence that
has developed in this Court is in many respects quite similar
to the balancing process mandated by s. 7. As McLachlin J.
stated for the Court in Cunningham v. Canada, [1993] 2
S.C.R. 143 at p. 152, 80 C.C.C. (3d) 492, regarding the latter:
“The . . . question is whether, from a substantive point of
view, the change in the law strikes the right balance between
the accused’s interests and the interests of society.” Much the
same could be said regarding the central question posed by
s. 1.
[66] However, there are several important differences
between the balancing exercises under ss. 1 and 7. The most
important difference is that the issue under s. 7 is the
delineation of the boundaries of the rights in question whereas
under s. 1 the question is whether the violation of these
boundaries may be justified. The different role played by ss. 1
and 7 also has important implications regarding which party
bears the burden of proof. If interests are balanced under s. 7
then it is the rights claimant who bears the burden of proving
that the balance struck by the impugned legislation violates
s. 7. If interests are balanced under s. 1 then it is the state that
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bears the burden of justifying the infringement of the Charter
rights.
[67] Because of these differences, the nature of the issues and
interests to be balanced is not the same under the two
sections. As Lamer J. (as he then was) stated in Re B.C.
Motor Vehicle Act, supra, at p. 503: “the principles of
fundamental justice are to be found in the basic tenets of the
legal system.” In contrast, s. 1 is concerned with the values
underlying a free and democratic society, which are broader
in nature. In R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103, 24 C.C.C. (3d)
321, 26 D.L.R. (4th) 200, Dickson C.J. stated, at p. 136, that
these values and principles “embody, to name but a few,
respect for the inherent dignity of the human person,
commitment to social justice and equality, accommodation of
a wide variety of beliefs, respect for cultural and group
identity, and faith in social and political institutions which
enhance the participation of individuals and groups in
society”. In R. v. Keegstra, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 697 at p. 737, 61
C.C.C. (3d) 1, Dickson C.J. described such values and
principles as “numerous, covering the guarantees enumerated
in the Charter and more”. [Emphasis added.]
[119] Thus, the difference between the s. 1 and the s. 7 analysis is important not only
because of the different interests to be considered but also because of the shift in the
burden of proof. For example, the Crown argued that in considering whether the law
struck the right balance between the accused’s interests and the interests of the state
under s. 7, the court should consider Canada’s international treaty obligations. It may be,
however, that such interests are more properly a matter for consideration under s. 1, in
which case the Crown would bear the onus of demonstrating that the violation of s. 7 was
necessary to uphold Canada’s treaty obligations. See R. v. Malmo-Levine 2000 BCCA
335 at para. 151.
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[120] Further, an important aspect of the Crown’s defence of the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act was the availability of a Ministerial exemption under s. 56 of the Act.
Again, it may be that the availability of such an exemption is more properly dealt with
under s. 1, in which cases the burden would be on the Crown to demonstrate that the
availability of such an exemption could save the prima facie violation of s. 7. This is of
some importance in view of the paucity of evidence on the operation of s. 56.
[121] However, this case was argued by both parties on the basis that all of these issues
were part of the s. 7 analysis and that the burden was therefore on the respondent
throughout. I have dealt with the case on that basis. The fact that I have taken into
account a broader range of state interests in the s. 7 analysis, if an error, would benefit the
Crown, since at the s. 7 stage the burden was on the respondent. I will return to the
relationship between ss. 1 and 7 after the s. 7 analysis.
(ii) History of use and prohibition of marihuana
[122] It will be seen that at the core of the analysis of the principles of fundamental
justice that apply in this case is the state interest in enacting the prohibition. Identifying
the state interest informs the analysis in both the Morgentaler and Rodriguez cases. In
Rodriguez, in particular, the issues were more complex than here. In that case, the court
had to contend with the dilemma posed by the applicant’s claim to choose the time and
manner of her death as an aspect of security of the person protected by s. 7 of the
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Charter, and the public interest in sanctity of life that also finds expression in s. 7 of the
Charter. At the heart of that dilemma was the apparently arbitrary distinction in the
blanket statutory prohibition on assisted suicide on one hand and, on the other hand, the
common law that allows a physician to withhold or withdraw life-saving or lifemaintaining
treatment on the patient’s instructions and to administer palliative care,
which has the effect of hastening death.
[123] While this appeal does not present the same level of complexity nor the need to
make the same kinds of agonizing distinctions, the form of analysis engaged in by
Sopinka J. in Rodriguez will assist in applying the principles of fundamental justice to
this case. It is only by considering the history of the use of and prohibition on marihuana,
the common law respecting patients’ rights, law reform and legislative initiatives, and
legislation in other countries that the court can put some legal content into the application
of the principles of fundamental justice that I have identified above.
[124] For reasons that will become apparent, the Crown does not now support the
marihuana prohibition on the basis of its historical roots. In the Clay trial and appeal, the
Crown expressly renounced any reliance on the theories that marihuana is a “gateway”
drug to harder drugs; that it provokes criminal activity; that marihuana use leads to lack
of motivation; or causes psychosis. The Crown argues that the objectives of the
prohibition are first to prevent the harms associated with smoking marihuana, including
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harm to human health. In addition, it claims the prohibition is necessary to control the
domestic and international trade in illicit drugs and to satisfy Canada’s international
treaty obligations.
[125] The parties filed an abundance of evidence about the history of marihuana use. I
have found of greatest assistance the 1998 report of the House of Lords Select Committee
on Science and Technology, “Cannabis, the Scientific and Medical Evidence”. Like
many other herbs, marihuana has been used in Asian and Middle Eastern countries for at
least 2600 years for medicinal purposes. It first appeared in Western medicine in 60 A.D.
in the Herbal (i.e. pharmacopoeia) of Dioscorides and was listed in subsequent herbals or
pharmacopoeia since that time. Marihuana was widely used for a variety of ailments,
including muscle spasms, in the nineteenth century. In the 1930’s, the advent of
synthetic drugs led to the abandonment of many ancient herbal remedies including
marihuana, although an extract of cannabis and a tincture of cannabis remained in the
British Pharmaceutical Codex of 1949.
[126] In R. v. Clay at pp. 356-57, McCart J. provided a summary of the early history of
regulation of marihuana in Canada. That history shows that, unlike the regulation of
assisted suicide, for example, regulation of marihuana has a very short history and lacks a
significant foundation in our legal tradition. It is, in fact, an embarrassing history based
upon misinformation and racism. As McCart J. observed, the marihuana prohibition was
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enacted in a climate of “irrational fear” based upon wild and outlandish claims that its
users are driven completely insane, immune from pain and, while in this state of maniacal
rage, kill or indulge in other forms of violence using the most savage methods of cruelty.
[127] In 1961, the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was adopted by
many countries including Canada and the United Kingdom and this led to new legislation
in both countries, the Narcotic Control Act in Canada and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965
in the United Kingdom. Under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965, physicians could still
prescribe marihuana. In the Narcotic Control Act, marihuana was put in the same
category as heroin and its possession was prohibited. Theoretically, a physician could
prescribe marihuana under the Narcotic Control Act, but since no firm has ever been
licensed to produce marihuana, there is no pharmacy to fill such a prescription and thus it
is practically not possible to legally possess marihuana pursuant to a prescription.
[128] In R. v. Hauser (1979), 46 C.C.C. (2d) 481, the Supreme Court of Canada held
that the Narcotic Control Act should be classified as legislation enacted under the general
residual federal power. In reviewing the history of the legislation, Pigeon J. noted that
the Act appeared to have been a response to Canada’s signing of the Single Convention of
Narcotic Control 1961. At p. 497, he compared the Act with the preamble to the
Convention:
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The conditions under which narcotics may be sold, had in
possession, or otherwise dealt in, are now determined by
regulations. A large number of those drugs are authorized for
sale or administration under medical prescription. In fact, a
certain number are enumerated in the list of drugs to be
supplied at Government expense which list was published in
the Quebec Official Gazette, December 13, 1978, pp. 6737 to
6982, pursuant to the Quebec Health Insurance Act, 1970
(Que.), c. 37. These include among others, codeine, cocaine,
morphine and opium.
It does not appear to me that the fact that the specific drugs
with which we are concerned in this case are completely
prohibited, alters the general character of the Act which is
legislation for the proper control of narcotic drugs rather than
a complete prohibition of such drugs. In the preamble of the
1961 convention one reads:
The Parties,
Concerned with the health and welfare of
mankind,
Recognizing that the medical use of narcotic
drugs continues to be indispensable for the
relief of pain and suffering and that adequate
provision must be made to ensure the
availability of narcotic drugs for such purposes,
Recognizing that addiction to narcotic drugs
constitutes a serious evil for the individual and
is fraught with social and economic danger to
mankind,
Conscious of their duty to prevent and combat
evil,
Considering that effective measures against
abuse of narcotic drugs require co-ordinated and
universal action.
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Understanding that such universal action calls
for international cooperation guided by the
same principles and aimed at common
objectives … [Emphasis added.]
[129] In this case, the Crown asserts that one of the objectives of the marihuana
prohibition is to satisfy Canada’s international treaty obligations with respect to the
control of illicit drugs. It is ironic then that the preamble of the international convention
that led to the enactment of the Narcotic Control Act recognizes what Parker asserts—
that “the medical use of narcotic drugs continues to be indispensable for the relief of pain
and suffering and that adequate provision must be made to ensure the availability of
narcotic drugs for such purposes”.
[130] In 1971, the United Nations adopted the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Cannabis appeared in Schedule I to the Convention and parties were therefore obliged to
ban marihuana “except for scientific and very limited medical purposes by duly
authorized persons” (House of Lords Select Committee report at para. 2.9). This led to
new legislation in the United Kingdom, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Cannabis was
moved to a new schedule and subject to an absolute ban thereby prohibiting its medical
use altogether.
[131] In 1988, the United Nations adopted the Convention Against Illicit Traffic in
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. A party to the Convention is, inter alia,
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required to adopt measures “subject to its constitutional principles and the basic concepts
of its legal system” to prohibit the possession of cannabis and the cultivation of cannabis
for personal use. In 1997, Parliament repealed the Narcotic Control Act and enacted the
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Marihuana has now been removed from the same
category of drugs such as heroin (Schedule I) and is included in Schedule II. The effect
is to lower the maximum penalty for possession and cultivation of marihuana. As under
the Narcotic Control Act, it is theoretically possible for a physician to prescribe
marihuana but since there is no legal source for the drug, the prescription could not be
filled.
[132] While the marihuana prohibition is not firmly rooted in our history, there is a wellestablished
history of regulation of drugs in this country. However, of all of the drugs
with potential therapeutic effects, marihuana stands out because it is subject to a complete
prohibition. This prohibition results from the web of legislation that makes it impossible
as a practical matter for a physician to prescribe marihuana and therefore for a patient to
legally possess it pursuant to a prescription.
[133] Far more dangerous drugs such as morphine and heroin are subject to regulation,
not outright prohibition, and a patient can obtain these drugs through a physician’s
prescription, although in the case of heroin, there are added safeguards. One telling piece
of history is that Marinol, which contains THC and has the psychoactive effects
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associated with smoked marihuana, has been approved for use in Canada and can be
obtained by prescription. In 1999, the House of Commons overwhelmingly passed a
motion, M-381, urging the government to legalize the medicinal use of marihuana and to
establish clinical trials and a legal supply of the drug.
[134] It seems to me that a reasonable conclusion to draw from this history is that a
blanket prohibition including medical use of marihuana does not have a long-standing
foundation in our legal tradition and societal beliefs. I recognize that the Quebec Court
of Appeal drew a somewhat different conclusion in R. v. Hamon (1993), 85 C.C.C. (3d)
490 at 494 in meeting an argument that marihuana is less dangerous than alcohol and yet
alcohol use is not absolutely prohibited. In that context, Beauregard J.A. held that “we
do not have a cultural tradition which would prevent the state from acting”. That is not,
however, the same as a finding that marihuana prohibition is part of our cultural tradition.
As McCart J. demonstrated, it is of recent origin and then was based on a very fragile
foundation.
(iii) Common law access to treatment
[135] We were not directed to any common law history of entitlement to drug therapy.
The closest analogue is the doctrine of informed consent, which makes it a civil wrong to
impose treatment without the consent of the patient. The patient may also demand that
treatment, once commenced, be withdrawn or discontinued. See Rodriguez at
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pp. 598-99. While there is obviously a difference between a right to refuse treatment and
a right to demand treatment, they can also be seen as two points on a continuum rooted in
the common-law right to self-determination with respect to medical care. This includes
the right to choose to select among alternative forms of treatment. Robins J.A.
summarized the common law in Malette v. Shulman (1990), 67 D.L.R. (4th) 321 (Ont.
C.A.) at 328:
The right of self-determination which underlies the doctrine
of informed consent also obviously encompasses the right to
refuse medical treatment. A competent adult is generally
entitled to reject a specific treatment or all treatment, or to
select an alternate form of treatment, even if the decision may
entail risks as serious as death and may appear mistaken in
the eyes of the medical profession or of the community.
Regardless of the doctor’s opinion, it is the patient who has
the final say on whether to undergo the treatment. The patient
is free to decide, for instance, not to be operated on or not to
undergo therapy or, by the same token, not to have a blood
transfusion. If a doctor were to proceed in the face of a
decision to reject the treatment, he would be civilly liable for
his unauthorized conduct notwithstanding his justifiable
belief that what he did was necessary to preserve the patient’s
life or health. The doctrine of informed consent is plainly
intended to ensure the freedom of individuals to make choices
concerning their medical care. For this freedom to be
meaningful, people must have the right to make choices that
accord with their own values regardless of how unwise or
foolish those choices may appear to others … [Emphasis
added.]
[136] Some common-law support for access to drugs with a therapeutic value,
notwithstanding a legal prohibition, can also be found in the defence of necessity. In
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Perka v. The Queen, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 232 at 250, Dickson J. described the moral and legal
basis for the defence:
At the heart of this defence is the perceived injustice of
punishing violations of the law in circumstances in which the
person had no other viable or reasonable choice available; the
act was wrong but it is excused because it was realistically
unavoidable.
[137] Using a criminal prohibition to bar access to a drug for a person, such as Parker,
who requires it to treat a condition that threatens his life and health, is antithetical to our
notions of justice. It is inconsistent with the principle of sanctity of life which, according
to Sopinka J. in Rodriguez at p. 605, as a general principle “is subject to limited and
narrow exceptions in situations in which notions of personal autonomy and dignity must
prevail”.
[138] Permitting access to medicine that may relieve debilitating symptoms of illness is
consistent with the common understanding about the purpose of proper medical care. In
Airedale N.H.S. Trust v. Bland, [1993] A.C. 789 at 857, Lord Keith of Kinkel stated that
the object of medical treatment and care is to benefit the patient. Where illness can
neither be prevented nor cured, “efforts are directed towards preventing deterioration or
relieving pain and suffering”.
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[139] To summarize, the common-law treatment of informed consent, the sanctity of life
and commonly held societal beliefs about medical treatment suggest that a broad criminal
prohibition that prevents access to necessary medicine is not consistent with fundamental
justice.
(iv) Legislation in other countries
[140] A survey of legislation in other countries shows an increasing tolerance for
possession of marihuana for personal use, although no country has fully decriminalized
possession. There is some movement towards actual decriminalizing of marihuana for
medical uses. In the United States, 34 states have legislation that recognizes the medical
value of marihuana and theoretically makes the substance available as a medicine. Only
a few states, such as California and Hawaii, have actually enacted legislation to
implement these initiatives. I have attached as appendices to these reasons the California
Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which added s. 11362.5 to the Health and Safety Code,
and the recent Hawaiian legislation. The matter is also complicated in the United States
because of the federal government’s position on legalization. Federal legislation still
makes the possession, use, prescription or sale of marihuana illegal regardless of the state
medical exemptions. However, even at the federal level there is now some change. In
March 2, 1999, a Bill was introduced in Congress titled Medical Use of Marijuana Act.
This Act would allow state laws to become fully operative and exempt medical
marihuana from federal drug legislation.
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[141] The House of Lords report, mentioned earlier, recommended that the government
transfer cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations to
permit physicians to prescribe it and pharmacists to supply it as an unlicensed medicine.
The U.K. government has refused to do so, although it has agreed to approve clinical
trials of cannabis for treatment of MS and chronic pain.
[142] In Rodriguez, Sopinka J. placed some reliance on the fact that the official position
of various medical associations was against decriminalizing assisted suicide. I have
earlier reviewed Dr. Morgan’s testimony concerning recent studies by the British Medical
Association and the United States Institute of Medicine. These studies strongly support
the view that marihuana has medicinal value and urge more study of the medical use of
marihuana. There is no apparent support for a blanket prohibition on medicinal use of
marihuana and to the contrary some recognition that at the moment there may be no
alternative than to permit patients to smoke marihuana to relieve the symptoms for
certain serious illnesses. For example, the House of Lords Select Committee on Science
and Technology in its Report on “Cannabis: The Scientific and Medical Evidence”
provided this comment at para. 8.7:
[P]eople who use cannabis for medical reasons are caught in
the front line of the war against drug abuse. This makes
criminals of people whose intentions are innocent, it adds to
the burden on enforcement agencies, and it brings the law into
disrepute. Legalising medical use on prescription, in the way
that we recommend, would create a clear separation between
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medical and recreational use, under control of the health care
professions. We believe it would in fact make the line against
recreational use easier to hold.
(v) Conclusion on the principles of fundamental justice
and the blanket prohibition on marihuana possession
and cultivation
[143] In the companion case of R. v. Clay, I have reviewed at greater length the state’s
objectives in prohibiting marihuana. First, the state has an interest in protecting against
the harmful effects of use of that drug. Those include bronchial pulmonary harm to
humans; psychomotor impairment from marihuana use leading to a risk of automobile
accidents and no simple screening device for detection; possible precipitation of relapse
in persons with schizophrenia; possible negative effects on immune system; possible
long-term negative cognitive effects in children whose mothers used marihuana while
pregnant; possible long-term negative cognitive effects in long-term users; and some
evidence that some heavy users may develop a dependency. The other objectives are: to
satisfy Canada’s international treaty obligations and to control the domestic and
international trade in illicit drugs. It remains to consider whether the deprivation of
Parker’s rights to liberty and security of the person enhance these objectives.
[144] The blanket prohibition on possession and cultivation, without an exception for
medical use, does little or nothing to enhance the state interest. To the extent that the
state’s interest in prohibiting marihuana is to prevent the harms associated with
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marihuana use including protecting the health of users, it is irrational to deprive a person
of the drug when he or she requires it to maintain their health. As in Morgentaler, the
court must consider the actual effect of the legislation. While the exemption for
therapeutic abortions was designed to preserve the pregnant woman’s health, it had the
opposite effect in some cases by imposing unreasonable procedural requirements and
delays.9 If the purpose of the marihuana prohibition is to protect the health of users and
thereby eliminate the related costs to society,10 the overbroad prohibition preventing
access to the drug to persons like Parker, who require it to preserve their health, defeats
that objective. Other harms, such as impaired driving, must be considered in context.
For example, prohibiting the small number of seriously ill patients who require it from
having access to marihuana does little to enhance the state interest in the safety of the
highways.
[145] It is also fair to take into account the extent of harm the marihuana prohibition is
designed to protect against. As McLachlin J. said in Cunningham v. Canada at pp.151-
52, fundamental justice requires that a fair balance be struck between the interest of the
person who claims his liberty or security interest has been limited and the protection of
society. If the harm against which society must be protected is relatively limited, less
limitation on the liberty and security interests will be tolerated especially when the
9 See R. v. Keegstra (1990) 61 C.C.C. (3d) 1 (S.C.C.) per McLachlin J. dissenting at 114.
10 See the discussion of those issues in R. v. Malmo-Levine supra, at para. 142-43.
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infringement on the person’s rights is grounded in a risk to life and health. The evidence
at trial demonstrated that the side effects of marihuana use are almost trivial compared to
the side effects of the conventional medicine Parker also takes. As pointed out, no one
has ever died from ingestion of marihuana.
[146] As to Canada’s international treaty obligations with respect to the control of illicit
drugs, I have already referred to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v.
Hauser and its reliance on Canada’s being a party to the Single Convention of Narcotic
Control 1961. As I noted, the first objective of that Treaty, as set out in the preamble,
recognizes that “the medical use of narcotic drugs continues to be indispensable for the
relief of pain and suffering and that adequate provision must be made to ensure the
availability of narcotic drugs for such purposes”. The former Narcotic Control Act,
which made no provision for the legal medical use of marihuana, does not further this
objective.
[147] Subsequent Conventions have tightened the control on all narcotics and
psychotropic substances, including marihuana. The 1971 Convention permitted use of
marihuana for limited medical purposes by duly authorized persons. The 1988
Convention requires states to prohibit possession, purchase and cultivation of marihuana
for personal use, subject to the country’s “constitutional principles and the basic concepts
of its legal system”. It is self-evident that if under our Constitution, namely s. 7 of the
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Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the prohibition of possession and cultivation of
marihuana for medical purposes is unconstitutional, it would be open to Parliament to
enact such an exemption and still comply with its treaty obligations.11 Prohibiting
possession or cultivation of marihuana for personal medical use does nothing to enhance
the state’s interest in fulfilling its international obligations. In R. v. Clay at p. 357,
McCart J. noted that in their hard-line approach to marihuana possession, the United
States (and Canada) appear “somewhat out of step with most of the rest of the western
world”. The fact that state and federal lawmakers in the United States now seem to
favour making marihuana available for medical use suggests that such a move in Canada
would not be inconsistent with our international obligations.
[148] Finally, in considering Canada’s treaty obligations, it should be borne in mind that
Canada is also a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, (1976), 993 U.N.T.S. 3.12 Article 12 of the Covenant includes the following:
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize
the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest
attainable standard of physical and mental health.
2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the
present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right
shall include those necessary for:

11 In any event, the Constitution takes precedence over any treaty obligations: Attorney-General for Canada
v. Attorney General for Ontario and Others, [1937] A.C. 326 (P.C.).
12 Canada acceded to the Covenant on May 19, 1976 and it came into force in Canada on August 19, 1976.
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(d) The creation of conditions which would assure
to all medical service and medical attention in the
event of sickness. [Emphasis added.]
[149] I have already noted the Crown’s argument that the trial judge “expressly”
reversed the onus of proving that the legislation was in accord with the principles of
fundamental justice. This is based in part on the emphasized excerpt from the following
portion of the trial judge’s reasons:
However, these schedules include also numerous narcotic
drugs which are possessed and used by Canadians with
medical approval. The Convention therefore, is not a
prohibition against all possession or distribution. As
article 3(2) states, the Convention must be read subject to
Canada’s constitutional principles and it is up to Canada to
“adopt such measures, AS MAY BE NECESSARY” (Court
emphasis) to criminalize the possession of marihuana. The
respondent/Crown, on these facts and based on any of the
tests of the principles of fundamental justice, has not
demonstrated the necessity of a legislative enactment so
broad as to prevent therapeutic use of this non-manufactured
grown plant product. [Emphasis added.]
[150] In my view, when read in context, this part of the reasons only refers to the
discussion about Canada’s international obligations. Resolution of that issue did not
depend on the burden of proof. In this passage, the trial judge is making the commonsense
observation, not disputed at trial or on appeal, that a medical exemption is
consistent with international obligations. By this point in his reasons, the trial judge has
already held that a blanket prohibition does not accord with the principles of fundamental
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justice since it does little or nothing to enhance the state interest. Given the Crown
position that a medical exemption is possible under the Conventions, the apparent
reversal of the burden is of no consequence.13
[151] The Crown also supports the legislation as necessary to control the domestic and
international trade in illicit drugs. While such an objective suggests a need for some form
of control on the distribution of marihuana, the complete prohibition on the possession or
cultivation of marihuana for personal therapeutic use does little to enhance this state
interest. The Crown has never asserted that the number of persons who could
legitimately claim access to marihuana for medical purposes is very large. They could
have little impact on the huge market for illicit marihuana. Prohibiting these patients
access to marihuana does little to enhance these state interests. What is required is
regulation of this drug, as with tranquilizers, morphine and other much more dangerous
and addictive drugs, for which there is also no doubt a large illicit market.
[152] To conclude, the deprivation of Parker’s rights to liberty and security of the person
because of the complete prohibition on the possession or cultivation of marihuana in the
former Narcotic Control Act does little or nothing to enhance the state’s interest. In my
view, Parker established that his rights under s. 7 were violated by the absolute
13 The Crown, of course, claims that the legislation already contains sufficient exemptions. In any event, if
treaty obligations are a matter more properly considered under s. 1, the Crown did bear the burden of proof on that
issue.
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prohibition on cultivation of marihuana in the Narcotic Control Act. Parker has no other
practical means of obtaining the drug for his medical needs. I did not understand the
Crown to suggest that we should distinguish between the possession and cultivation for
personal medical use, for the purpose of the s. 7 analysis. Since the cultivation offence is
the only provision at issue under that Act, strictly speaking I need not consider the
validity of the possession offence. However, it is obvious from this discussion that were
that provision before this court, I would have found that it also violates Parker’s rights
under s. 7.
[153] I am also of the view that, subject to the availability of a s. 56 exemption, Parker
has established that the similar prohibition on possession and cultivation of marihuana in
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act violates his rights under s. 7 of the Charter.
Again, since, strictly speaking, the possession offence is the only provision at issue under
that Act, it is unnecessary to consider the validity of the cultivation offence. Before
turning to s. 56, it will be convenient to deal with other principles of fundamental justice.
(vi) Does the practical unavailability of a defence under
the legislation infringe the principles of fundamental
justice?
[154] In Morgentaler, Dickson C.J.C. rested his finding that the abortion prohibition was
unconstitutional on the practical unavailability of the defence that was theoretically
available through the therapeutic abortion committee procedure. He reviewed the
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extensive evidence that demonstrated that therapeutic abortions were unavailable in many
parts of the country and that even where it was available the delays created by the
administrative structure often required physicians to use a riskier procedure when the
abortion was finally approved. He explained at pp. 72-3, in a passage that I have
previously quoted, why this was inconsistent with the principles of fundamental justice.
To summarize, he held that it was manifestly unfair to create a defence that contained so
many barriers to its operation that it was practically unavailable to women who would
prima facie qualify for the defence. Dickson C.J.C. also explained at p. 76 why this
violation of s. 7 could not be saved under s. 1:
I conclude, therefore, that the cumbersome structure of s-s.
(4) not only unduly subordinates the s. 7 rights of pregnant
women but may also defeat the value Parliament itself has
established as paramount, namely, the life and health of the
pregnant woman. As I have noted, counsel for the Crown did
contend that one purpose of the procedures required by subs.
(4) is to protect the interests of the foetus. State protection of
foetal interests may well be deserving of constitutional
recognition under s. 1. Still, there can be no escape from the
fact that Parliament has failed to establish either a standard or
a procedure whereby any such interests might prevail over
those of the woman in a fair and non-arbitrary fashion.
[Emphasis added.]
[155] The same may be said of the theoretical defence available in the Narcotic Control
Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Under s. 3 of the Narcotic Control Act
and s. 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act it is an offence to have possession of
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any narcotic or scheduled substance respectively including marihuana except as
authorized by the Act or regulations. While the regulations theoretically contemplate that
a physician could prescribe marihuana, the evidence from the government witness was
that since there is no legal source for marihuana, no pharmacist could fill the prescription
and that the government would not look favourably upon a physician who purported to
write such a prescription. That witness also established the practical impossibility of
Parker obtaining a legal source of marihuana. For example, the process for approval of a
new drug involves the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars. For most of his
life, Parker has been on government assistance as a result of his disability.
[156] The Crown says that it is not the fault of the legislation, but the fact that no one
has come forward to attempt to comply with the legislation to obtain new drug approval.
The practical unavailability of marihuana due to the administrative structure prevents
Parker and people like him who require the drug for medical purposes from obtaining a
prescription for the drug because of the absence of a legal supply. Put simply, the
expense for Parker in obtaining a legal source of the drug through the new drug approval
procedure established by the state makes the defence held out under the legislation
practically unavailable.
[157] Although we heard little argument on the point, I do not doubt the importance of
the state interest in ensuring that new drugs meet stringent standards before they are made
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widely available to the public. One only has to remember the tragedy of Thalidomide to
understand the need for the regulatory structure. However, the problem facing this court
is different. I have found that Parker established that the criminal prohibition against
possession of marihuana infringed his security of the person. He requires marihuana to
treat his epilepsy and without it, his life and health are endangered. He has also
established that the side effects of his use of marihuana are minor, compared to the side
effects from the prescription drugs he is required to take as part of his conventional
treatment. The state interest in strict regulation of new drugs must be balanced against
the risk to Parker’s life and health posed by the administrative structure established by
Parliament and the government. The state cannot hold out as a generally available
defence the possibility of possessing the drug in accordance with a prescription when
Parker is practically precluded from availing himself of the defence.
[158] In Morgentaler, the Crown made essentially the same argument. As summarized
in the reasons of Dickson C.J.C. at p. 61, the Crown argued that any impairment to the
physical or psychological interests of individuals caused by the abortion provisions of the
Code “does not amount to an infringement of security of the person because the injury is
caused by practical difficulties and is not intended by the legislator”.
[159] Dickson C.J.C. rejected the argument for two reasons. First, as a practical matter
it was not possible to erect a rigid barrier between the purposes of the section and the
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administrative procedures established to carry those purposes into effect. For example,
the delay resulted not simply from the practical problems, but was inherent in the
cumbersome operating requirements of the section itself. Second, even if it were possible
to dissociate purpose and administration, the Supreme Court had previously held that
both purpose and effect must be considered. As Dickson C.J.C. said at pp. 62-3:
Even if the purpose of legislation is unobjectionable, the
administrative procedures created by law to bring that
purpose into operation may produce unconstitutional effects,
and the legislation should then be struck down. It is important
to note that, in speaking of the effects of legislation, the court
in R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd. was still referring to effects
that can invalidate legislation under s. 52 of the Constitution
Act, 1982 and not to individual effects that might lead a court
to provide a personal remedy under s. 24(1) of the Charter. In
the present case, the appellants are complaining of the general
effects of s. 251. If s. 251 of the Criminal Code does indeed
breach s. 7 of the Charter through its general effects, that can
be sufficient to invalidate the legislation under s. 52.
[Emphasis added.]
[160] I need only consider the second reason referred to by Dickson C.J.C. Even if the
purpose of the regulatory scheme created by the Narcotic Control Act and the Controlled
Drugs and Substances Act and Regulations is valid, the administrative procedures created
to bring the purpose into operation produce unconstitutional effects for the group of
people like Parker who require marihuana for medical purposes.14
14 I will deal with the question of remedy, raised in the passage quoted above, later in my reasons. Suffice it
to say that I do not consider the defect in the legislation to be merely an individual effect requiring simply a remedy
under s. 24(1) alone.
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[161] Even if I am wrong on this aspect of the case, the theoretical availability of
marihuana through the new drug programme does not answer Parker’s claim that the
prohibition infringes his right to liberty. I have described that right as the right to make
decisions that are of fundamental personal importance, which includes the choice of
medication to alleviate the effects of an illness with life-threatening consequences. There
may be circumstances in which the state interest in regulating the use of new drugs
prevails over the individual’s interest in access. This, however, is not one of those
circumstances. The evidence establishes that the danger from the use of the drug by a
person such as Parker for medical purposes is minimal compared to the benefit to Parker
and the danger to Parker’s life and health without it. It may be that the state is entitled to
require the approval of the patient’s choice by a physician in much the same way that in
Morgentaler, Beetz J. contemplated that even if there was a right of access to abortion
founded upon the right to liberty, a second medical opinion as to the mother’s health
could be justified in some circumstances (Wilson J. suggested the second trimester)
because of the state interest in the protection of the foetus. However, the current legal
and administrative structure completely deprives Parker of any choice, even with the
approval of his physician.15
[162] In summary, like the defence for women who required an abortion because the
continuation of the pregnancy would endanger their health, the defence in the Narcotic
15 Subject to a possible s. 56 exemption discussed below.
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Control Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is practically unavailable to
Parker and others like him who require marihuana for conditions threatening their life or
health. This constitutes a violation of the principles of fundamental justice. Again, as
Dickson C.J.C. said in Morgentaler at p. 70:
One of the basic tenets of our system of criminal justice is
that when Parliament creates a defence to a criminal charge,
the defence should not be illusory or so difficult to attain as to
be practically illusory. The criminal law is a very special form
of governmental regulation, for it seeks to express our
society’s collective disapprobation of certain acts and
omissions. When a defence is provided, especially a
specifically-tailored defence to a particular charge, it is
because the legislator has determined that the disapprobation
of society is not warranted when the conditions of the defence
are met. [Emphasis added.]
[163] Parliament has created a defence to the possession and cultivation offences if the
person can comply with the regulations. Those regulations, for example, permitted a
person to legally possess the drug under prescription from a physician. The
government’s own witness established that this defence or exemption is illusory. This is
not consistent with the principles of fundamental justice.
6. Is there a different analysis of fundamental justice
under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act?
(i) Introduction
[164] The Crown argues that even if Parker has established a deprivation of his right to
liberty or security of the person (as opposed to a mere preference for an illegal form of
Page: 89
treatment), the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act does comply with the principles of
fundamental justice because of the three legal means by which Parker could possess
marihuana. They are:
(i) The Health Canada procedure for approval of new
drugs,
(ii) The Emergency Drug Release (Compassionate Use)
Programme,
(iii) An application to the Minister of Health under s. 56 of
the Act.
[165] I have already briefly dealt with the Health Canada procedure for approval of new
drugs. As to the Emergency Drug Release Programme or Compassionate Use
Programme under the Narcotic Control Regulations, the theoretical availability of this
programme to Parker runs up against the practical and, for Parker, insuperable barrier that
there is no licensed source of marihuana because it is a controlled substance. Thus, while
the Programme allows applications to be made for access to otherwise non-marketed
drugs, marihuana is not available because Health Canada has not licensed any firm to
produce and distribute it. The Crown says this is because no one has come forward
seeking a licence. The same considerations that applied to my discussion of the new drug
approval process apply. Parker simply does not have the means to become a licensed
dealer in marihuana and therefore no means of taking advantage of the Compassionate
Use Programme.
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(ii) Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances
Act
[166] The third alternative source for legal possession of marihuana is through s. 56 of
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. That section provides as follows:
56. The Minister may, on such terms and conditions as the
Minister deems necessary, exempt any person or class of
persons or any controlled substance or precursor or any class
thereof from the application of all or any of the provisions of
this Act or the regulations if, in the opinion of the Minister,
the exemption is necessary for a medical or scientific purpose
or is otherwise in the public interest.
[167] The trial judge held that there was no provision under the former Narcotic Control
Act or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for an exemption for a person requiring
marihuana for medical purposes. This statement is true about the Narcotic Control Act.
It is not the case under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In fairness to the trial
judge, s. 56 was never drawn to his attention and Mr. Rowsell, the government witness,
who should have known about s. 56, made no mention of it in his evidence. In summary,
at trial, the Crown did not advance the availability of an exemption under s. 56 as a basis
for upholding the legislation.
[168] Counsel for Parker argues that the Crown should not now be permitted to rely
upon s. 56. This court is reluctant to permit litigants to raise constitutional arguments for
the first time on appeal, even where the argument is to support a defence for an accused.
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Thus, at the opening of the appeal we indicated to the intervener Epilepsy Association of
Toronto that it would not be permitted to challenge the validity of the Act under s. 15 of
the Charter, notwithstanding the potential force of such a submission, because no such
challenge was made at trial.16
[169] There are important institutional and practical reasons underlying our reluctance to
allow constitutional arguments to be raised for the first time on appeal. If the matter is
not raised at trial, the necessary adjudicative facts may not be before the court to enable
the court to adequately address the new issue. An appellate court also does not have the
benefit of findings of fact by the trial judge concerning disputed adjudicated and
legislative facts. Where the Crown raises a new issue for the first time on appeal, double
jeopardy concerns may arise. See R. v. Varga (1994), 90 C.C.C. (3d) 484 (Ont. C.A.) at
494.
[170] The Crown’s new-found reliance on s. 56 involves many of these considerations.
We have only a sparse record concerning the operation of s. 56, especially since the
Crown declined this court’s offer to adjourn the hearing of the appeal to obtain further
evidence. What information there is comes from the decisions of LaForme J. of the
Superior Court of Justice in Wakeford v. Canada (1998), 166 D.L.R. (4th) 131 and
16 The Association argues that the marihuana prohibition discriminates on the basis of disability.
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(1999), 173 D.L.R. (4th) 726 to which I will refer and the fresh evidence put forward by
Parker through the affidavit and cross-examination of Mr. Oscapella.
[171] Nevertheless, in my view, it is necessary for this court to consider the application
of s. 56. Although there was no evidence about s. 56 at trial, the section was part of the
statute under consideration and in that sense the issue was before the court. Failure to
consider, even on this sparse record, the application of s. 56, which has become central to
the government’s defence of the legislation, could undermine the legitimacy of this
court’s judgment.
[172] I have reviewed the fresh evidence concerning s. 56 applications earlier. In
summary, in May 1999, Health Canada released the Interim Guidance Document that
outlines the process for Canadians to obtain exemptions under s. 56. At the time of
Mr. Oscapella’s cross-examination, two exemptions had been granted for cannabis
possession. This trial took place in 1997 and, as I have indicated, there was no practical
way for Parker to have obtained an exemption under s. 56. Parker submits that the
government’s new-found interest in s. 56 is the result of the Wakeford decisions. It is
worth examining those decisions.
[173] Mr. Wakeford suffers from AIDS. His illness and the various drugs he must take
to control it leave him with many debilitating side effects including nausea and loss of
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appetite. He tried using Marinol, but this only made him sicker. He began to use
marihuana under a physician’s supervision in 1996. He found that the marihuana
controlled his nausea and stimulated his appetite and countered many of the side effects
he experienced from the prescription drugs. In 1998, he applied to the Ontario Court
(General Division) (now the Superior Court of Justice) for a constitutional exemption.
His submissions were similar to those made in this case, although he also relied upon
s. 15 of the Charter. In his first judgment released September 8, 1998, LaForme J. held
that Wakeford’s s. 7 rights were not infringed because he had not demonstrated that he
could not obtain an exemption under s. 56 of the Act. However, he also held at pp. 150-
51 that if there was no real process or procedure whereby an individual could apply for an
exemption, he would “have no hesitation in granting, perhaps even all, the relief
Mr. Wakeford seeks”.
[174] In March 1999, Mr. Wakeford applied to re-open the original application. The
evidence adduced on the new hearing demonstrated that in fact there was no process by
which Mr. Wakeford could have obtained a s. 56 exemption. As LaForme J. put it, the
availability of the exemption was illusory. At the time of the new hearing, the process for
obtaining s. 56 exemptions was under development but it was unknown how the process
would work, how long it would take to process an application and when Mr. Wakeford’s
application would be dealt with. Accordingly, on the new hearing, LaForme J. granted
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Mr. Wakeford an interim constitutional exemption from the operation of the possession
and cultivation offences under the Act until the Minister decided upon his application.
[175] The Crown submits that if this court were to find that Parker’s right to liberty or
security of the person is infringed by the marihuana prohibition, that infringement is in
accordance with the principles of fundamental justice because of the availability of the
s. 56 exemption. Mr. Wilson submits that the fresh evidence shows that there is now a
process in place for the Minister to consider such applications. He submits that the
Minister would have to comply with the dictates of the Charter in considering such
applications and further should there be a refusal of the exemption in any particular case,
the applicant’s remedy is to judicially review the Minister’s decision, not strike down the
legislation.
[176] Before dealing with the Crown’s submissions concerning s. 56, it is important to
make some preliminary comments. I do not wish the following reasons to be
misinterpreted. I do not doubt that the present Minister of Health takes the issue of
medical use of marihuana seriously nor do I question his good intentions. On June 9,
1999, in response to a question from a member, the Minister informed the House that he
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was exercising his power under s. 56 for “two very sick people to use marijuana for
medical purposes”.17 In doing so he said the following:
Let us remember what this is about. This is about showing
compassion to people, often dying, suffering from grave and
debilitating illness. I want to thank the member and all the
members here for pushing this issue so that we behave
properly on behalf of those who are sick and dying.
[177] The question remains; does this unfettered discretion meet constitutional
standards? In my view, notwithstanding the theoretical availability of the s. 56 process,
the marihuana prohibition does not accord with the principles of fundamental justice. In
Morgentaler, Dickson C.J.C. found the therapeutic abortion scheme invalid in part
because the provincial Ministers of Health could impose so many restrictions as to make
therapeutic abortions unavailable in the province and because there was no standard
provided in the section for the committee to use in determining whether the woman’s
health was in danger. He held as follows at pp. 67-8:
The requirement that therapeutic abortions be performed only
in “accredited” or “approved” hospitals effectively means that
the practical availability of the exculpatory provisions of
subs. (4) may be heavily restricted, even denied, through
provincial regulation. In Ontario, for example, the provincial
government promulgated O. Reg. 248/70 under The Public
Hospitals Act, R.S.O. 1960, c. 322, now R.R.O. 1980, Reg.
865. This regulation provides that therapeutic abortion
17 One of those people was Mr. Wakeford.
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committees can only be established where there are ten or
more members on the active medical staff (Powell Report, at
p. 13). A minister of health is not prevented from imposing
harsher restrictions. During argument, it was noted that it
would even be possible for a provincial government,
exercising its legislative authority over public hospitals, to
distribute funding for treatment facilities in such a way that
no hospital would meet the procedural requirements of s.
251(4). Because of the administrative structure established in
s. 251(4) and the related definitions, the “defence” created in
the section could be completely wiped out.
A further flaw with the administrative system established in s.
251(4) is the failure to provide an adequate standard for
therapeutic abortion committees which must determine when
a therapeutic abortion should, as a matter of law, be granted.
Subsection (4) states simply that a therapeutic abortion
committee may grant a certificate when it determines that a
continuation of a pregnancy would be likely to endanger the
“life or health” of the pregnant woman. It was noted above
that “health” is not defined for the purposes of the section.
The Crown admitted in its supplementary factum that the
medical witnesses at trial testified uniformly that the “health”
standard was ambiguous, but the Crown derives comfort from
the fact that “the medical witnesses were unanimous in their
approval of the broad World Health Organization definition
of health”. The World Health Organization defines “health”
not merely as the absence of disease or infirmity, but as a
state of physical, mental and social well-being.
I do not understand how the mere existence of a workable
definition of “health” can make the use of the word in s.
251(4) any less ambiguous when that definition is nowhere
referred to in the section. There is no evidence that
therapeutic abortion committees are commonly applying the
World Health Organization definition. Indeed, the Badgley
report indicates that the situation is quite the contrary…
[Emphasis added.]
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[178] The same must be said about s. 56. It reposes in the Minister an absolute
discretion based on the Minister’s opinion whether an exception is “necessary for a
medical … purpose”, a phrase that is not defined in the Act. The Interim Guidance
Document issued by Health Canada to provide guidance for an application for a s. 56
exemption sets out factors that the Minister “may” consider in deciding whether an
exemption is necessary for a medical purpose. This document does not have the force of
law and, in any event, merely sets out examples of factors the Minister may consider. It
does not purport to exhaustively define the circumstances. In fact, the document
explicitly states that the Minister may take into account considerations unrelated to
medical necessity such as “the potential for diversion”.18 The document also suggests
that the power under s. 56 is only to be exercised in “exceptional circumstances”, a
qualification not found in the statute itself.
[179] Even if the Minister were of the opinion that the applicant had met the medical
necessity requirement, the legislation does not require the Minister to give an exemption.
The section only states that the Minister “may” give an exemption. The Crown did not
suggest that “may” should be interpreted as “shall”.
[180] The problem is not unlike the issue confronting the court in Committee for the
Commonwealth of Canada v. Canada, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 139. That case concerned
18 Presumably, into the illicit market.
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freedom of expression and the validity of s. 7 of the Government Airport Concession
Operations Regulations, SOR/79-373, which prohibited the conducting of any business or
undertaking, commercial or otherwise, and any advertising or soliciting at an airport,
“except as authorized in writing by the Minister”. There were several sets of reasons and
only some members of the court reached the constitutional issue. The comments of
L’Heureux-Dubé J., concurred in in this respect by Gonthier and Cory JJ., are instructive,
even taking into account that the case involved a fundamental freedom under s. 2 rather
than a guaranteed right under s. 7 and that the relevant part of the discussion comes in the
s. 1 analysis.
[181] L’Heureux-Dubé J. held that the violation of freedom of expression could not be
saved because an applicant could apply for authorization. At p. 214, she wrote as
follows:
Rights and freedoms must be nurtured not inhibited. Vague
laws intruding on fundamental freedoms create paths of
uncertainty onto which citizens fear to tread, fearing legal
sanction. Vagueness serves only to cause confusion and most
people will shy from exercising their freedoms rather than
facing potential punishment.
In addition, the Regulations provides that “except as
authorized in writing by the Minister, no person shall …”. It
is clear that the Minister is given a “plenary discretion to do
whatever seems best”. That in itself may create a standard
which is so vague as to be incomprehensible. In any event,
vagueness by virtue of the lack of a comprehensible standard
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does not accord with the requirement that a limit on a right or
freedom be “prescribed by law”. [Emphasis added.]
[182] Further, in concluding that the regulation did not meet the Oakes test under s. 1,
she held at pp. 225-26 as follows:
This particular provision does not even come close to meeting
that standard. As a result of its vagueness and overbreadth,
there is no foreseeability as to what activity is in fact being
proscribed. Furthermore, the unfettered discretion vested in
the Minister itself undermines the reasonableness and
predictability of the provision’s application. Those affected
by the Regulation cannot be left to speculate or surmise how
or in what circumstances it will be implemented. Such
conjecture is incompatible with the spirit, purposes and goals
of our Charter, and will not pass constitutional muster: it has
not been demonstrably justified in a free and democratic
society. [Emphasis added.]
[183] McLachlin J. reached a similar conclusion in her consideration of s. 1. She held at
pp. 246-47 that the limit on the right should contain sufficient safeguards to ensure that as
the law is applied the right will not be infringed more than necessary. This latter danger
may occur “if too much discretion is granted to administrators charged with applying the
limit or law in question”.
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[184] In view of the lack of an adequate legislated standard for medical necessity and the
vesting of an unfettered discretion in the Minister, the deprivation of Parker’s right to
security of the person does not accord with the principles of fundamental justice.
[185] In effect, whether or not Parker will be deprived of his security of the person is
entirely dependent upon the exercise of ministerial discretion. While this may be a
sufficient legislative scheme for regulating access to marihuana for scientific purposes, it
does not accord with fundamental justice where security of the person is at stake.19
[186] The problem is not unlike that faced by the court in R. v. Smith (Edward
Dewey), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 1045 in considering the validity of the seven-year minimum
term of imprisonment for importing narcotics under the former Narcotic Control Act.
The Crown argued that violations of the right to protection against cruel and unusual
punishment under s. 12 of the Charter could be avoided by prosecutorial discretion. At
pp. 1078-1079 Lamer J. explained why this could not save the provision:
In its factum, the Crown alleged that such eventual violations
could be, and are in fact, avoided through the proper use of
prosecutorial discretion to charge for a lesser offence.
In my view, the section cannot be salvaged by relying on the
discretion of the prosecution not to apply the law in those
cases where, in the opinion of the prosecution, its application
19 Section 56 also gives the Minister the power to impose “such terms and conditions” as he deems necessary.
It would thus be possible for a Minister of Health to impose conditions that would make the exemption illusory. The
fact that the present application requires the applicant to name the source of his or her supply gives some reason for
concern when the government must know that at present there is no legal source for marihuana in Canada.
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would be a violation of the Charter. To do so would be to
disregard totally s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 which
provides that any law which is inconsistent with the
Constitution is of no force or effect to the extent of the
inconsistency and the courts are duty-bound to make that
pronouncement, not to delegate the avoidance of a violation
to the prosecution or to anyone else for that matter. Therefore,
to conclude, I find that the minimum term of imprisonment
provided for by s. 5(2) of the Narcotic Control Act infringes
the rights guaranteed by s. 12 and, as such, is a prima facie
violation of the Charter. Subject to the section’s being
salvaged under s. 1, the minimum must be declared of no
force or effect. [Emphasis added.]
[187] In my view, this is a complete answer to the Crown’s submission. The court
cannot delegate to anyone, including the Minister, the avoidance of a violation of
Parker’s rights. Section 56 fails to answer Parker’s case because it puts an unfettered
discretion in the hands of the Minister to determine what is in the best interests of Parker
and other persons like him and leaves it to the Minister to avoid a violation of the
patient’s security of the person.
[188] If I am wrong and, as a result, the deprivation of Parker’s right to security of the
person is in accord with the principles of fundamental justice because of the availability
of the s. 56 process, in my view, s. 56 is no answer to the deprivation of Parker’s right to
liberty. The right to make decisions that are of fundamental personal importance includes
the choice of medication to alleviate the effects of an illness with life-threatening
consequences. It does not comport with the principles of fundamental justice to subject
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that decision to unfettered ministerial discretion. It might well be consistent with the
principles of fundamental justice to require the patient to obtain the approval of a
physician, the traditional way in which such decisions are made. It might also be
consistent with the principles of fundamental justice to legislate certain safeguards to
ensure that the marihuana does not enter the illicit market. However, I need not finally
determine those issues, which, as I will explain in considering the appropriate remedy,
are a matter for Parliament.
[189] I have one final concern with the availability of the s. 56 process. An
administrative structure made up of unnecessary rules that results in an additional risk to
the health of the person is manifestly unfair and does not conform to the principles of
fundamental justice. We were provided with little evidence as to the operation of the
s. 56 procedure as established by the government. The Oscapella affidavit includes the
Interim Guidance Document, that is, as I have indicated, to provide guidance for a s. 56
application. The document envisages a detailed application and entitles the Minister to
request further information. Since the Crown declined the opportunity to present further
fresh evidence about s. 56, the only evidence as to the actual operation of the programme
comes from the cross-examination of Mr. Oscapella, which was hearsay based on
information he had obtained from government employees, presumably persons who could
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have provided evidence for the Crown.20 Mr. Oscapella testified that, despite the
statement by the Minister in the House of Commons that he intended there be a “15-day
turnaround period”, only two exemptions had been granted as of June 9, 1999. As of
August 26, 1999, a further 15 applications were complete but had still not been dealt with
by the Minister as of the date of the cross-examination on September 14th. These kinds of
delays, which may be due to the administrative procedure, would further endanger the
health of a person like Parker.
[190] To conclude, in my view, Parker has established that the prohibition on possession
of marihuana in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act has deprived Parker of his right
to security of the person and right to liberty in a manner that does not accord with the
principles of fundamental justice. Since Parker was not charged with the cultivation
offence, that offence is not expressly before this court. However, it is apparent from
these reasons and the reasons dealing with the cultivation offence under the Narcotic
Control Act that if the cultivation provision had been before this court, I would hold that
it too infringes Parker’s s. 7 rights. Since there is no legal source of supply of marihuana,
Parker’s only practical way of obtaining marihuana for his medical needs is to cultivate
20 As Cory J. said in MacKay v. Manitoba (1989), 61 D.L.R. (4th) 385 (S.C.C.) at 388, in light of the
importance and impact that some Charter decisions may have, “the courts have every right to expect and indeed to
insist upon the careful preparation and presentation of a factual basis in most Charter cases”. While the burden was
on the respondent to demonstrate the violation of s. 7, given the importance the Crown placed upon the s. 56
exemption it would have been helpful if the Crown produced expert evidence from the officials in Health Canada in
charge of the s. 56 programme.
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it. In this way, he avoids having to interact with the illicit market and can provide some
quality control.
7. Can any violations be saved by s. 1?
[191] The onus was on the Crown to establish that the violations of Parker’s rights could
be saved under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Crown did not
suggest that the violations could be saved by s. 1. In any event, many of the defects in
the legislation that contribute to the deprivations of Parker’s rights practically preclude
the legislation from meeting the proportionality test under s. 1.
[192] In particular, one of the purposes of the law is to prevent harm to the health of
Canadians and the resulting costs to society. However, the broad nature of the marihuana
prohibition has the effect of impairing the health of Parker and others who require it for
medical purposes. In this sense, the legislation works in opposition to one of the primary
objectives and thus could be described as “arbitrary” or “unfair”: R. v. Keegstra (1990)
61 C.C.C. (3d) 1 (S.C.C.) per Dickson C.J.C. at 53 and per McLachlin J. (dissenting) at
114.
[193] The only possible basis for holding that the provision of the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act constituted a reasonable limit is that s. 56 tempers the facial overbreadth
of the prohibition. However, for the reasons of L’Heureux-Dubé J. and McLachlin J. in
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Committee for the Commonwealth of Canada v. Canada, the plenary discretion vested in
the Minister precludes a finding that this is a reasonable limit. Thus, whether the s. 56
exemption is considered under s. 1 or s. 7, it cannot save the legislation.
[194] Finally, the broad prohibition means that the section fails the minimal impairment
test: R. v. Heywood (1994), 94 C.C.C. (3d) 481 (S.C.C.) at 523. There is no need to
prosecute people like Parker who require marihuana for medical purposes to achieve any
of the three objectives identified by the Crown: preventing harm, international treaty
obligations, and control of the trade in illicit drugs. Less intrusive means are available to
meet these objectives. The Californian and Hawaiian legislative schemes are but two
examples of how these objectives might be reconciled with the needs of patients
requiring access to marihuana.
8. The appropriate remedy for the violations
[195] The trial judge granted remedies through the combination of s. 24(1) of the
Charter and s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982. He stayed the charges against Parker and
declared that the marihuana possession and cultivation prohibitions in both the Narcotic
Control Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act be read down to exempt
“persons possessing or cultivating cannabis marihuana for the personal medically
approved use”. The trial judge also ordered that the plants seized from Parker on
September 18, 1997 be returned to him.
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[196] I cannot agree with the trial judge’s choices of remedies. First, in my view, it was
inappropriate to require the police to return the plants as there was no evidence that these
perishable items were still available. I would strike out that part of the judgment.
[197] I also cannot agree that it was open to the trial judge to grant a declaration in
relation to the possession offence under the Narcotic Control Act or the cultivation
offence under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The trial judge’s jurisdiction to
deal with the constitutional issues before him was dependent upon the criminal charges in
issue. He did not have the jurisdiction a superior court would have had on an application
for a declaration. I would therefore also set aside those parts of the judgment.
[198] I also do not agree with the trial judge that it was appropriate to read a medical
exemption into the legislation. In this respect, I agree with the submissions of the Crown.
In light of the leading decisions on remedy in Schachter v. Canada, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 679,
Corbiere v. Canada (Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 203 and
Rodriguez, the Crown submits that, should this court find a violation of s. 7 because the
legislation fails to provide adequate exemptions for medical use, the “only available
remedy” is to strike down those provisions and suspend the finding of invalidity for a
sufficient period of time to allow Parliament to craft satisfactory medical exemptions.
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[199] Since the federal Crown takes this position in defending its own legislation, it is
only necessary for me to briefly indicate my reasons for reaching the same conclusion
with respect to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Since the Narcotic Control Act
has been repealed by Parliament, it is unnecessary to strike down the offending provision.
[200] In Schachter, Lamer C.J.C. extensively reviewed the various remedies available to
a court that finds legislation violates a Charter provision. Reading in is a remedial option
under s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which requires the court to strike down any law
that is inconsistent with the Constitution, but only “to the extent of the inconsistency”.
The purpose of reading in “is to be as faithful as possible within the requirements of the
Constitution to the scheme enacted by the Legislature”: Schachter at p. 700. Reading in
is also sometimes required in order to respect the purposes of the Charter.
[201] In Schachter, Lamer C.J.C. reviewed the factors to be considered in determining
whether or not reading in is an appropriate remedy by reference to the factors developed
by the Court in R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103. Reading in is particularly appropriate
where the legislation fails because it is not carefully tailored to be a minimal intrusion or
it has effects that are disproportionate to its purpose. The defects in the Controlled Drugs
and Substances Act fall within this rationale and thus reading in is a potential remedy.
Even so, reading in will not be appropriate if “the question of how the statute ought to be
extended in order to comply with the Constitution cannot be answered with a sufficient
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degree of precision on the basis of constitutional analysis”: Schachter at p. 705. To read
in an exemption in such circumstances would “amount to making ad hoc choices from a
variety of options, none of which was pointed to with sufficient precision by the
interaction between the statute in question and the requirements of the Constitution. This
is the task of the legislature not the courts”: Schachter at p. 707.
[202] In its factum, the Crown has listed a number of problems with the reading in
remedy adopted by the trial judge. They include the following:
(a) what constitutes “medically approved use”?
(b) who may grant medical approval? on what basis? on
whose onus? to what standard of proof?
(c) given that this is a constitutional protection (i.e. the
highest form of protection allowed by our law), what degree
of illness is required to engage it? must it be life-threatening?
chronically disabling? disruptive? generally inconvenient?
merely bothersome?
(d) what quantities of marijuana may an authorized person
possess? enough for one day? a week? a year? should there be
a presumption that any amount in excess of immediate need is
not covered by the exemption? If so, who decides what the
threshold amount should be?
(e) what quantities of marijuana may an authorized person
cultivate? how much of the plant should be considered
useable for the purpose of that determination? just the
flowers? the flowers and the leaves? who decides?
(f) does the exemption extend in any way to roommates,
family members or caregivers? if an unauthorized individual
cares for an otherwise ‘exempt’ plant while its authorized
Page: 109
owner is away, is that individual insulated from prosecution
for cultivation? on what basis, if the exemption is personal?
[203] I do not necessarily accept that all of these problems necessarily flow from the
remedy chosen by the trial judge.21 I do accept, however, that the Crown has raised
matters of sufficient complexity that reading in is not an appropriate remedy. For these
reasons, I agree with the Crown that the prohibition on simple possession of marihuana in
s. 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act must be struck down.
[204] I point out, however, that this is not a case like Rodriguez where creating an
exception might frustrate the purpose of the legislation because adequate guidelines to
control abuse are difficult or impossible to develop. Rather, refusing to read in an
exemption demonstrates a recognition of and respect for the different roles of the
legislature and the courts. There is, in my view, no question that a medical exemption
with adequate guidelines is possible. The fact that such exemptions exist in some states
in the United States is testament to that. However, there are many options to consider
and this is a matter within the legislative sphere. There is also a particular problem in the
21 I also do not accept all of the Crown’s submissions, based on Schachter, for refusing the reading-in
remedy. For example, the Crown argues that a medical exemption would undermine the “comprehensive code”
governing right of access to controlled substances for medical purposes or would constitute judicial intrusion into
the very core of Parliament’s legislative authority over criminal law to decide what conduct should be criminalized.
This significantly overstates the issue. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act already contains a significant
number of exemptions for medical use of drugs. It is obvious that absolute prohibition is not at the core of the
power to criminalize conduct. The “comprehensive code” rationale for refusing to read in is based on the theory that
reading in would so markedly change the legislation that it could not be safely assumed that Parliament would have
enacted the non-offending provisions. Given the various existing exemptions for medical use of other more
dangerous drugs, this theory hardly seems credible.
Page: 110
case of marihuana because of a lack of a legal source for the drug. This raises issues that
can only be adequately addressed by Parliament.
[205] There is one other factor that is also worth considering. To avoid an undue
intrusion into the legislative sphere, any exemption crafted by a court should probably be
the minimum necessary to cure the constitutional defect. However, faced with the need
to open up the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to address the constitutional defect,
Parliament has the resources to address the broader issue of medical use. By way of
example only, people without the means to grow marihuana themselves may be
dependent upon caregivers to obtain the drug. This is a complex matter that, while not
necessarily implicating Charter rights (although it may), is not something a court is
equipped to deal with. Put another way, Parliament is not bound to legislate to the
constitutional minimum. It can adopt the optimal and most progressive legislative
scheme that it considers just.
[206] Finally, I believe it is appropriate to sever the marihuana possession prohibition
from the other parts of s. 4. That section is central to the control of many dangerous
drugs and there was no suggestion by any of the parties that severance in this limited
respect was inappropriate.
Page: 111
[207] I also agree with the Crown that the declaration of invalidity should be suspended
to provide Parliament with the opportunity to fill the void. Such a declaration is required
where striking down a provision “poses a potential danger to the public”: Schachter at
p. 715. I would suspend the declaration of invalidity for 12 months.
[208] I do not accept the submissions of the intervener that the appropriate remedy is a
constitutional exemption for persons requiring marihuana for medical purposes. In
Corbiere at p. 225, the court held that the remedy of a constitutional exemption has only
been recognized in a very limited way, “to protect the interests of a party who has
succeeded in having a legislative provision declared unconstitutional, where the
declaration of invalidity has been suspended”.22 Thus, Parker is entitled to a
constitutional exemption from the possession offence under the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act during the period of the suspended invalidity for possession of marihuana
for his medical needs. I have also made it clear in these reasons that if the cultivation
offence under that Act were before this court, I would have held that provision to be
invalid. I expect that the authorities would not subject Parker to further prosecution
under that section in view of these reasons.
22 Also see Lamer C.J.C. dissenting in Rodriguez at p. 577. This part of his reasons was adopted by the court
in Corbiere.
Page: 112
[209] Finally, Parker is entitled to the personal remedies granted to him by the trial
judge under s. 24(1) of the Charter. Thus, I would uphold the trial judge’s order staying
the proceedings for cultivation under the former Narcotic Control Act and for possession
under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
DISPOSITION
[210] Accordingly, I would vary the remedy granted by the trial judge and declare the
marihuana prohibition in s. 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to be invalid. I
would suspend the declaration of invalidity for a period of twelve months from the
release of these reasons. The respondent is exempt from the marihuana prohibition in s. 4
of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act during the period of suspended invalidity for
possession of marihuana for his medical needs. I would set aside those parts of
Sheppard J.’s judgment reading in a medical exemption into the former Narcotic Control
Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and ordering the return of the plants
seized in the September 1997 search. In all other respects, I would dismiss the Crown
appeal.
RELEASED: July 31, 2000
APPENDIX I
California Compassionate Use Act of 1996
11362.5. (a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the Compassionate
Use Act of 1996.
(b) (1) The people of the State of California hereby find and declare that the
purposes of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 are as follows:
(A) To ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana
for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been
recommended by a physician who has determined that the person’s health would
benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS,
chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for
which marijuana provides relief.
(B) To ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana
for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to
criminal prosecution or sanction.
(C) To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for
the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of
marijuana.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede legislation prohibiting
persons from engaging in conduct that endangers others, nor to condone the
diversion of marijuana for nonmedical purposes.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no physician in this state shall be
punished, or denied any right or privilege, for having recommended marijuana to a
patient for medical purposes.
(d) Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana, and Section 11358, relating
to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient’s primary
caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the
patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician.
(e) For the purposes of this section, “primary caregiver” means the individual
designated by the person exempted under this section who has consistently assumed
responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.
APPENDIX II
STATE OF HAWAII
A Bill for an Act relating to Medical Use of Marihuana
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that modern medical research has discovered a
beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms associated
with certain debilitating illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, human immunodeficiency
virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and crohn’s
disease. There is sufficient medical and anecdotal evidence to support the proposition that
these diseases and conditions may respond favorably to a medically controlled use of
marijuana.
The legislature is aware of the legal problems associated with the legal acquisition of
marijuana for medical use. However, the legislature believes that medical scientific
evidence on the medicinal benefits of marijuana should be recognized. Although federal
law expressly prohibits the use of marijuana, the legislature recognizes that a number of
states are taking the initiative in legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Voter initiatives permitting the medical use of marijuana have passed in California,
Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Maine, and the District of Columbia.
The legislature intends to join in this initiative for the health and welfare of its
citizens. However, the legislature does not intend to legalize marijuana for other than
medical purposes. The passage of this Act and the policy underlying it does not in any way
diminish the legislature’s strong public policy and laws against illegal drug use.
Therefore, the purpose of this Act is to ensure that seriously ill people are not
penalized by the State for the use of marijuana for strictly medical purposes when the
patient’s treating physician provides a professional opinion that the benefits of medical use
of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient.
SECTION 2. Chapter 329, Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding a new part to be
appropriately designated and to read as follows:
“PART .
MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA
Page: 2
§329-A Definitions. As used in this part:
“Adequate supply” means an amount of marijuana that is not more than reasonably
necessary to assure, throughout the projected course of treatment, the uninterrupted
availability of marijuana for purposes of treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms
associated with a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition or the treatment of such
condition; provided that an “adequate supply” shall be between 1 ounce and 10.5 ounces,
but no more than a sixty-day supply.
“Debilitating medical condition” means:


(1) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired
immune deficiency syndrome, or the treatment of these conditions;
(2) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces
one or more of the following:
(A) Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
(B) Severe pain;
(C) Severe nausea;
(D) Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or
(E) Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of
multiple sclerosis or crohn’s disease; or
(3) Any other medical condition approved by the department of health pursuant to
administrative rules in response to a request from a physician or qualifying patient.
“Marijuana” shall have the same meaning as “marijuana” and “marijuana concentrate” as
provided in sections 329-1 and 712-1240.
“Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution, or
transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marijuana to
alleviate the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition.
Page: 3
“Physician” or “treating physician” means a person who is licensed under chapters 453 and
460.
“Primary caregiver” means a person, other than the qualifying patient and the qualifying
patient’s physician, who is eighteen years of age or older who has agreed to undertake
significant responsibility for managing the well-being of no more than three qualifying
patients at any one time with respect to the medical use of marijuana. In the case of a minor
or an adult lacking legal capacity, the primary caregiver shall be a parent, guardian, or
person having legal custody.
“Qualifying patient” means a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a
debilitating medical condition.
“Written certification” means the qualifying patient’s medical records or a statement signed
by a qualifying patient’s physician, stating that in the physician’s professional opinion, the
qualifying patient has a debilitating medical condition and the potential benefits of the
medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient.
§329-B Medical use of marijuana; conditions of use.
(a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the medical use of marijuana by a
qualifying patient, or the furnishing of marijuana for medical use by the qualifying patient’s
primary caregiver pursuant to this chapter, shall be permitted only if:
(1) The qualifying patient has been diagnosed by a physician as having a
debilitating medical condition;
(2) The qualifying patient’s physician has certified in writing that, in the
physician’s professional opinion, the potential benefits of the medical use of
marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the particular qualifying
patient; and
(3) The amount of marijuana does not exceed an adequate supply.
(b) Subsection (a) shall not apply to a qualifying patient under the age of eighteen years,
unless:
(1) The qualifying patient’s physician has explained the potential risks and
benefits or the medical use of marijuana to the qualifying patient and to a parent,
guardian, or person having legal custody; and
Page: 4
(2) A parent, guardian, or person having legal custody consents in writing to:
(A) Allow the qualified patient’s medical use of marijuana;
(B) Serve as the qualifying patient’s primary caregiver; and
(C) Control the acquisition of the marijuana, the dosage, and the frequency
of the medical use of marijuana by the qualifying patient.
(c) The authorization for medical use of marijuana in this section shall not apply to:
(1) Medical use of marijuana that endangers the health or well-being of another
person;
(2) Medical use of marijuana:
(A) In a school bus, public bus, or any moving vehicle;
(B) In the workplace of one’s employment;
(C) On any school grounds;
(D) At any public park, public beach, public recreation center, recreation or
youth center; or
(E) Other place open to the public; and
(3) Use of marijuana by a qualifying patient, parent, or primary caregiver for
purposes other than medical use permitted by this chapter.
§329-C Registration requirements.
(a) The qualifying patient shall register with, and provide a copy of the written
certification to, the department of health within ten working days of receipt of the written
certification by the treating physician. The department of health shall issue to the
qualifying patient a registration certificate, and may charge a reasonable fee, not to exceed
$25.
Page: 5
(b) Upon an inquiry by a law enforcement agency, the department of health shall verify
whether the particular qualifying patient has registered with the department and may
provide reasonable access to the registry information for official law enforcement purposes.
§329-D Insurance not applicable. This part shall not be construed to require
insurance coverage for the medical use of marijuana.
§329-E Protections afforded to a qualifying patient or primary caregiver.
(a) A qualifying patient or the primary caregiver may assert medical use of marijuana as
an affirmative defense to any prosecution involving marijuana under this chapter or chapter
712; provided that the qualifying patient or the primary caregiver strictly complied with the
requirements of this part.
(b) No person shall be subject to arrest or prosecution for being in the presence or
vicinity of the medical use of marijuana as permitted under this part.
§329-F Protections afforded to a treating physician. No physician shall be subject
to arrest or prosecution, penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege for
providing written certification for the medical use of marijuana for a qualifying patient;
provided that:
(1) The physician has diagnosed the patient as having a debilitating medical condition,
as defined in section 329-A;
(2) The physician has explained the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of
marijuana, as required under section 329-B; and
(3) The certification is based upon the physician’s professional opinion after having
completed a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition
made in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship.
§329-G Protection of marijuana and other seized property. Marijuana and any
property used in connection with the medical use of marijuana shall not be subject to search
and seizure. Marijuana, paraphernalia, or other property seized from a qualifying patient or
primary caregiver in connection with claimed medical use of marijuana under this part shall
be returned immediately upon the determination by a court that the qualifying patient or
Page: 6
primary caregiver is entitled to the protections of this part, as evidenced by a decision not to
prosecute, dismissal of charges, or an acquittal; provided that law enforcement agencies
seizing live plants as evidence shall not be responsible for the care and maintenance of such
plants.
329-H Fraudulent misrepresentation; penalty. Notwithstanding any other law to the
contrary, fraudulent misrepresentation to a law enforcement official of any fact or
circumstance relating to the medical use of marijuana in order to avoid arrest or prosecution
under this part or chapter 712 shall be a petty misdemeanor and subject to a fine of $500.
SECTION 3. Section 453-8, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection
(a) to read as follows:
“(a) In addition to any other actions authorized by law, any license to practice
medicine and surgery may be revoked, limited, or suspended by the board at any
time in a proceeding before the board, or may be denied, for any cause authorized by
law, including but not limited to the following:
(1) Procuring, or aiding or abetting in procuring, a criminal abortion;
(2) Employing any person to solicit patients for one’s self;
(3) Engaging in false, fraudulent, or deceptive advertising, including, but not
limited to:
(A) Making excessive claims of expertise in one or more medical specialty
fields;
(B) Assuring a permanent cure for an incurable disease; or
(C) Making any untruthful and improbable statement in advertising one’s
medical or surgical practice or business;
(4) Being habituated to the excessive use of drugs or alcohol; or being addicted
to, dependent on, or a habitual user of a narcotic, barbiturate, amphetamine,
hallucinogen, or other drug having similar effects;
(5) Practicing medicine while the ability to practice is impaired by alcohol, drugs,
physical disability, or mental instability;
Page: 7
(6) Procuring a license through fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit or knowingly
permitting an unlicensed person to perform activities requiring a license;
(7) Professional misconduct, hazardous negligence causing bodily injury to
another, or manifest incapacity in the practice of medicine or surgery;
(8) Incompetence or multiple instances of negligence, including, but not limited
to, the consistent use of medical service which is inappropriate or unnecessary;
(9) Conduct or practice contrary to recognized standards of ethics of the medical
profession as adopted by the Hawaii Medical Association or the American Medical
Association;
(10) Violation of the conditions or limitations upon which a limited or temporary
license is issued;
(11) Revocation, suspension, or other disciplinary action by another state or
federal agency of a license, certificate, or medical privilege for reasons as provided
in this section;
(12) Conviction, whether by nolo contendere or otherwise, of a penal offense
substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician,
notwithstanding any statutory provision to the contrary;
(13) Violation of chapter 329, the uniform controlled substances act, or any rule
adopted thereunder[;] except as provided in section 329-B;
(14) Failure to report to the board, in writing, any disciplinary decision issued
against the licensee or the applicant in another jurisdiction within thirty days after
the disciplinary decision is issued; or
(15) Submitting to or filing with the board any notice, statement, or other
document required under this chapter, which is false or untrue or contains any
material misstatement or omission of fact.”
SECTION 4. Section 712-1240.1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:


Ҥ712-1240.1 Defense to promoting.
Page: 8
(1) It is a defense to prosecution for any offense defined in this part that the
person who possessed or distributed the dangerous, harmful, or detrimental drug did
so under authority of law as a practitioner, as an ultimate user of the drug pursuant to
a lawful prescription, or as a person otherwise authorized by law.
(2) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for any marijuana-related offense
defined in this part that the person who possessed or distributed the marijuana was
authorized to possess or distribute the marijuana for medical purposes pursuant to
part of chapter 329.”
SECTION 5. This Act shall not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were
incurred, and proceedings that were begun, before its effective date.
SECTION 6. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or
circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications
of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this
end the provisions of this Act are severable.
SECTION 7. In codifying the new sections added section 2, and referred to in sections 3
and 4 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute the appropriate section numbers for
the letters used in designating the new sections of this Act.
SECTION 8. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed. New statutory material is
underscored.
SECTION 9. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

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