Canada marijuana law faces another challenge

May 30, 2004

, CBC Ottawa

GATINEAU - A West Quebec man will finally get his day in court after battling the legal system for years. Johnny Dupuis will go on trial Tuesday for a five-year-old charge of possessing marijuana. 

He claims he needs the drug for health reasons. But his unsuccessful fight to get a medical exemption has tied his case up for years.

Now he's hoping the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will help his case.

Dupuis says he has been in constant pain ever since a vicious knife attack 27 years ago.

'[Marijuana] helps me eat first of all, because all my stomach is all ripped open from this attack. And, basically, it helps me to sleep, because, when this occurred, I was sleeping when I was attacked,' Dupuis says.

When police entered his home five years ago, they found him in possession of just under four kilos of marijuana.

He was charged with cultivation, possession, and intent to traffic.

Ever since then, Dupuis has been trying unsuccessfully to get a medical exemption. The problem is, his application was made under old regulations, which require him to prove the drug actually helps his condition.

Dupuis says there isn't enough scientific information available to allow him to do that.

So he plans to use the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to fight the charge.

Dupuis's lawyer, Michel Moreau, says, 'All the people who made the application under the old regulation, if we win this case, it will be good for them.'

Dupuis's trial is expected to last about two days. Dupuis says, if he loses, he'll appeal his case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Last year, an Ontario court ruled that Canada's medical marijuana laws are unconstitutional and gave Ottawa just six months to change them. 

 In a judgement issued Oct. 7, 2003, the Ontario Court of Appeal wrote new rules to make it easier for people who are ill to get medicinal marijuana legally, but, in the process, it reinstated laws making posession of pot for social or recreational use illegal.

The Supreme Court of Canada said in a decision on Dec. 23, 2003, that Canada's laws against possessing small amounts of marijuana do not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and its protection of life, liberty and security of person.

Ottawa still plans to decriminalize possession of small amounts. Prime Minister Paul Martin said in December 2003 that the government plans to reintroduce the marijuana bill that died in November 2003.

Be the first to Comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.