Legalization of medical cannabis is constantly changing. Proof of that is in the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision announced last week.
Though Canada legalized medical marijuana in 2001 for a number of medical conditions, it had a major drawback—medicinal cannabis could only be smoked or vaporized. This restriction was a major problem for patients, especially children. In December 2014, Cannabis Industry Today looked at this issue and featured a BBC report about Mandy McKnight, who was illegally making and providing cannabis oil to her six-year-old son to treat his seizures.
Last Thursday, McKnight couldn’t stop crying over the positive news that the Canadian Supreme Court expanded the definition of medical marijuana to include other forms of the medicine beyond the dried form. The cannabis oil McKnight provides to her son, who is now seven years old, has a high level of CBD to control his epileptic seizures without the THC-induced high.
In Canada, all medicinal cannabis use has come about as a result of ongoing litigation, and patients with a medical need must fall within the scope of the court orders. That’s how this most recent ruling came about too. In 2009, Owen Smith was caught with more than 200 cannabis cookies and 26 jars of cannabis-infused oils and lip balms. He was arrested because these forms of marijuana were illegal at the time. He was acquitted in his first trial, but the federal government appealed the decision to take the case to Canada’s top court. Angry federal government officials continue to oppose marijuana use.
In the United States, a recent decision by the Colorado Supreme Court demonstrates the need to legalize medical marijuana at the federal level. Brandon Coats, a customer service rep for Dish Network, was fired for failing he employer’s drug test. Coats is a quadriplegic who uses marijuana in his off-time to control painful muscle spasms. When he sued in 2010 for wrongful termination, a trial court dismissed his suit on the grounds that legalization of medical marijuana only provides a defense against criminal prosecution and does not make use of marijuana a “lawful activity” protected against employment discrimination. Coats appealed and the Colorado Court of Appeals, though it differed with the trial court’s reasoning, still found Coats rightfully terminated. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with that reasoning.
Brandon Coats lost his job because of his medical cannabis treatment. But, he also advanced the conversation about marijuana laws in the U. S. and that’s a good thing.
Not all employers will be as strict as Dish Network, but federal laws will continue to trump state laws in court as long as marijuana—adult use and medical—is illegal as a Substance 1 Drug. Other states watched the outcome of this case closely and we’re likely to see additional discrimination against cannabis patients before federal laws change.
Though Coats lost his job, he advanced the conversation about marijuana laws. And, that’s a good thing.
Want to be part of the medical cannabis solution? Consider attending Oaksterdam University.
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