Crown urges Ontario court to overturn medical marijuana ruling

The Crown on Monday urged Ontario’s Court of Appeal to overturn a controversial ruling that struck down the federal legislation governing access to medical marijuana.

The case centres on Toronto marijuana activist Matthew Mernagh, who launched a constitutional challenge after being charged with producing marijuana illegally. The trial judge accepted Mernagh’s position that the federal Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) constitute an unfair barrier for sick people, and struck down both the MMAR and sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act banning marijuana production and possession. That ruling is on hold pending the outcome of the federal government’s appeal.

Before three Appeal Court judges Monday, Crown attorney Croft Michaelson rejected the trial judge’s findings as “extravagant and wholly unsupported by the record.”

Michaelson said Justice Donald Taliano made numerous errors in finding that Canadian doctors have engaged in a “massive boycott” of the medical marijuana program, leaving many needy patients with nowhere to turn.

“You cannot say on this record that the majority of physicians in Canada are opposed to the MMAR . . . It’s mere speculation,” Michaelson said, citing an insufficient evidentiary basis for the judge’s conclusions.

A large number of Mernagh’s supporters turned out for the court hearing, one hoisting a Canadian flag emblazoned with a cannabis leaf in place of the traditional Maple Leaf.

The hearing was slated to resume Monday afternoon.

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