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Rona Ambrose needs to chill out over reefer brownies: Editorial

The Supreme Court’s nod to marijuana brownies for sick people just upholds the law of the land.

Rona Ambrose member of parliament

Good grief. What on earth has federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose been nibbling? Steroid-laced Alberta cheeseburgers? She certainly hasn’t been chowing down on soothing cannabis cookies.

Her dyspeptic reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling this past week legalizing reefer brownies and Mary Jane tisanes raised more eyebrows than a whiff of skunk at a church picnic. It came across like a spasm of ‘roid rage. Or a bit of self-serving Conservative political posturing in the run-up to a federal election.

“Frankly, I’m outraged,” Ambrose declared. “I’m outraged by the message that judges are sending that they think that they can approve a drug into a medicine without clear clinical scientific evidence and without safety reviews.” Cannabis “is not a drug … not a medicine,” she insisted.

Well, not on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Reefer Madness-obsessed watch. Health Canada could make it an approved medicine, but won’t. The Tories are ideologically dead set against anyone using marijuana. While two in three Canadians want it legalized or decriminalized, the Tories are forever bashing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for proposing to legalize. And they can’t bring themselves to decriminalize, as New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair proposes.

But for all Ambrose’s sputtering, the Supremes weren’t trying to practice medicine without a licence by declaring marijuana a cure for what ails us. They were just upholding the law of the land.

Medical use of marijuana for seriously ill people, while controversial, has been legal in Canada since 2001 after the courts ruled that cannabis has some “medicinal value” and can be of “therapeutic assistance.” It is commonly used to offer relief to those who suffer from cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, migraine, epilepsy, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.

Ambrose’s own department, Health Canada, has licensed no fewer than 25 firms to grow the stuff. Some 50,000 Canadians use it, lawfully. And yes, Ottawa can claim its tax cut.

But until now Health Canada rules effectively forced people to smoke medical marijuana. And that violated the Constitution by unreasonably interfering with “life, liberty and security of the person” in two ways, the court ruled: People who wanted to consume marijuana in, say, a cookie would face prison while a smoker would not. That’s patently unfair. And forcing people to smoke exposes them to cancer and bronchial infections. That’s just dumb. Rightly, the court found these rules both arbitrary and unhealthy.

So brownies, cookies, teas and whatever other concoction ailing people can whip up in the kitchen blender are now on the menu. As they should be.

Despite Ambrose’s wild assertion that the high court justices are branching out into the drug-approval business, this ruling gives the judicial nod to baking brownies for sick people, nothing more. The federal government, under Liberals and Tories alike, has long since given the nod to medicinal toking. This minister needs to chill out.

Editorial source Toronto Star

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