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Canada: Update: Health Canada Responds to Supreme Court Ruling on Cannabis

(July 13, 2015) On July 8, 2015, Health Canada, the country’s federal department in charge of public health, responded to the Supreme Court of Canada’s June 11, 2015, ruling on medical marijuana. (Statement on Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Smith [Statement], GOVERNMENT OF CANADA (July 8, 2015); Tariq Ahmad, Canada: Supreme Court Rules That All Forms of Medical Marijuana Are Permissible, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (June 19, 2015).) In the case of R v. Smith, the Court ruled that all forms of medical marijuana were permissible and that the restriction limiting the use of medical marijuana to dry forms of the substance violated section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right to “life, liberty and security of the person.” (R. v. Smith, 2015, SCC 34, JUDGMENTS OF THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA; Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act, 1982, c.11 (U.K.), § 7, JUSTICE LAWS website.)

According to the statement released by Health Canada, the changes made to the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) in response to the decision are as follows:

Â?In order to eliminate uncertainty around a legal source of supply of marijuana, Health Canada has taken the immediate step of issuing a section 56 exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (SOR/2013-119, JUSTICE LAWS website), allowing licensed producers to produce and sell cannabis oil and fresh marijuana buds and leaves in addition to dried marijuana (plant material that can be used to propagate marijuana will not be permitted to be sold by licensed producers to clients). (Statement, supra.)

This new exception comes into effect immediately, with certain conditions and restrictions imposed on the marijuana producers, such as labeling requirements, packaging requirements, and record-keeping standards, as well as the obligation to report adverse reactions to cannabis-based products to Health Canada. (Id.)

Prepared by Julia Heron, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Tariq Ahmad, Senior Legal Research Analyst.