Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/4/2011 (3837 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
An Ontario court ruling this week has set the stage for what will hopefully be a decisive national debate on the country's marijuana's laws, which make criminals out of ordinary Canadians and deny relief for thousands of people suffering from chronic ailments.
In a case involving a man who relies on marijuana to ease pain, the Ontario Superior Court ruled Canada's pot laws were unconstitutional and it gave Ottawa three months to respond.
The government has three choices: Do nothing, which would effectively legalize the drug in Ontario; challenge the ruling, which would likely result in the matter ultimately heading to the Supreme Court of Canada for a decisive ruling; or rewrite the laws to make it easier for people to obtain marijuana for medical purposes.
The complainant in the Ontario case has been unable to find a doctor to give him a medical marijuana licence, which he wanted to deal with multiple health issues, including fibromyalgia, scoliosis, seizures and depression.
Many ill people experience the same problem, forcing some of them to acquire the drug illegally, the judge said.
Canada has allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes since 2002, but many doctors have been reluctant to write prescriptions, either because they are uncomfortable with the idea or because they feel uninformed about the drug itself.
The injustice of the country's marijuana laws, however, also extends to millions of recreational users, most of whom are working Canadians who are forced into the shadows because of the criminal sanctions associated with smoking pot.
The simplest solution for both medical and recreational users is for the government to legalize the drug and regulate it. Such a measure would curtail some criminal enterprises, while providing a new taxable product.
The Tory government of Stephen Harper has been trying to move in the opposite direction by increasing penalties, but it is out of touch with public opinion, which largely regards smoking weed as a victimless crime. It is time, Mr. Harper, to get with the program.