Mexico’s top court is set to decide whether a federal law forbidding the production and use of cannabis violates the constitution.
The Mexican supreme court could legalize the consumption and production of marijuana for recreational later this month if it decides that parts of a federal law forbidding its production and consumpution are unconstitutional
The court is set to vote on the issue in a hearing scheduled Oct. 28, according to documents posted on its website.
In August, a lower court granted a mother and father the right to import a marijuana-based medicine to treat their 8-year-old daughter's epilepsy.
Marijuana, along with cocaine and crystal meth, has been a major source of income for criminal gangs in Mexico, with the profits fueling official corruption and a violent drug war that has killed at least 80,000 people over the last decade.
Other countries in Latin America have decriminalized cannabis possession for personal use and in some cases legalized small-scale production. In Colombia, for instance, it has been legal to possess up to 22 grams of marijuana since 1994, though the sale of the plant remains illegal. Similarly, in Ecuador it is legal to possess up to 10 grams of cannabis, though sale and production remain prohibited.
The South American country Uruguay, meanwhile, has some of the most relaxed marijuana policies in the world. In 2013, former President José Mujica fully legalized the use of cannabis, with retail sales set to begin next year. The government has set the price for marijuana at $1.20 a gram.
Health minister 'outraged' by ruling, vows to combat 'normalization' of pot.
Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana — and not just smoke it — as well as use other extracts and derivatives, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today.
The unanimous ruling against the federal government expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond the "dried" form.
The country's highest court found the current restriction to dried marijuana violates the right to liberty and security "in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice."
Restricting medical access to marijuana to a dried form has now been declared "null and void" — Sections 4 and 5 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, which prohibits possession and trafficking of non-dried forms of cannabis, will no longer be in effect.
The respondent in this case, Owen Smith, called it "a very emotional day."
"I'm proud and really happy today for all those people who are going to benefit from this ruling," he said at a press conference in Victoria, B.C.
The decision upholds earlier rulings by lower courts in British Columbia that said they went against a person's right to consume medical marijuana in the form they choose.
Many users felt smoking it was even potentially harmful. However, methods such as brewing marijuana leaves in tea or baking cannabis into brownies left patients vulnerable to being charged with possession and trafficking under the law.
According to evidence submitted to the trial judge, it came down to forcing a person to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment, and an illegal but more effective choice.
Federal health minister 'outraged'
"It's a positive — it's a great thing for patients ... and people who need extracts who can't smoke their cannabis or don't even want to in the first place," said David-George Oldham, founder of The ARC, a consortium of cannabis patients, doctors, activists and chemists.
SCOC Medical Marijuana 20150611
David-George Oldham smokes marijuana outside the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)
"Imagine smoking seven grams of cannabis when you're having a migraine so bad that just moving your fingers is excruciating pain," he said during a scrum outside the Supreme Court.
"Taking a [cannabis] pill is a lot more sensible and having pills stocked in my cupboard makes a lot more sense than having just raw cannabis out and about in my house."
The federal government, however, isn't pleased.
"Frankly, I'm outraged by the Supreme Court," said Health Minister Rona Ambrose.
"Let's remember, there's only one authority in Canada that has the authority and the expertise to make a drug into a medicine and that's Health Canada," she said during a press conference.
"Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which of course, requires a rigorous safety review and clinical trials with scientific evidence."
Arrest of pot baker sparked court challenge
The case stems from Smith's 2009 arrest in Victoria.
Smith, a baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, was found with more than 200 cookies and 26 jars of liquids, including cannabis-infused massage oils and lip balms. The baker was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Marijuana ruling - Owen Smith pot cookie baker
Owen Smith was caught baking more than 200 pot cookies for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club in 2009. (CHEK)
The club delivers medical marijuana products to its members, but doesn't have a licence to produce it.
At his trial, Smith argued that the law under which he was charged was unconstitutional and violated Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person.
The British Columbia trial judge agreed and acquitted him. A B.C. Appeal Court also ruled in Smith's favour, under the principle that no one can be convicted of an offence under an unconstitutional law.
The federal government then appealed that decision to take his case to Canada's top court. Thursday's decision affirms Smith's acquittal.
The Appeal Court had also suspended its declaration for a year to give Parliament time to rewrite the law. The Supreme Court has now deleted that suspension, saying otherwise it would "leave patients without lawful medical treatment and the law and law enforcement in limbo."
Ambrose said the federal government will fight against the court's "normalization" of marijuana.
"We will continue to combat it. We will continue our anti-drug strategy, we will target youth with the message that marijuana pot is bad for them," the minister said. "We'll continue to work with medical authorities across the country to make sure they're involved in the message."
July 7, 2013. Washington. In case readers missed it with all the coverage of the Trayvon Martin murder trial and the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act, the US Supreme Court also made a ruling on lawsuits against drug companies for fraud, mislabeling, side effects and accidental death. From now on, 80 percent of all drugs are exempt from legal liability.
In a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s ruling and award for the victim of a pharmaceutical drug’s adverse reaction. According to the victim and the state courts, the drug caused a flesh-eating side effect that left the patient permanently disfigured over most of her body. The adverse reaction was hidden by the drug maker and later forced to be included on all warning labels. But the highest court in the land ruled that the victim had no legal grounds to sue the corporation because its drugs are exempt from lawsuits.
Karen Bartlett vs. Mutual Pharmaceutical Company
In 2004, Karen Bartlett was prescribed the generic anti-inflammatory drug Sulindac, manufactured by Mutual Pharmaceutical, for her sore shoulder. Three weeks after taking the drug, Bartlett began suffering from a disease called, ‘toxic epidermal necrolysis’. The condition is extremely painful and causes the victim’s skin to peel off, exposing raw flesh in the same manner as a third degree burn victim.
Karen Bartlett sued Mutual Pharma in New Hampshire state court, arguing that the drug company included no warning about the possible side effect. A court agreed and awarded her $21 million. The FDA went on to force both Mutual, as well as the original drug manufacturer Merck & Co., to include the side effect on the two drugs’ warning labels going forward.
Now, nine years after the tragedy began, the US Supreme Court overturned the state court’s verdict and award. Justices cited the fact that all generic drugs and their manufacturers, some 80% of all drugs consumed in the United States, are exempt from liability for side effects, mislabeling or virtually any other negative reactions caused by their drugs. In short, the Court ruled that the FDA has ultimate authority over pharmaceuticals in the US. And if the FDA says a drug is safe, that takes precedent over actual facts, real victims and any and all adverse reactions.
The Court’s ruling a week ago on behalf of generic drug makers is actually a continuation of a ruling made by the same Court in 2011. At that time, the Justices ruled that the original inventors and manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs, also known as ‘name brand’ drugs, are the only ones that can be sued for mislabeling, fraud or adverse drug reactions and side effects. If the generic versions of the drugs are made from the exact same formula and labeled with the exact same warnings as their brand name counterparts, the generics and their manufacturers were not liable.
The Court ruled, “Because it is impossible for Mutual and other similarly situated manufacturers to comply with both state and federal law, New Hampshire's warning-based design-defect cause of action is pre-empted with respect to FDA-approved drugs sold in interstate commerce."
And that ruling flies in the face of both common sense and justice. And as Karen Bartlett can now attest, it leaves 240 million Americans unprotected from the deadly and torturous side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. As a reminder, the number one cause of preventable or accidental death in the US is pharmaceutical drugs.
The news shouldn't be left wing or right wing, conservative or liberal. It should be the news. It should be independent - Whiteout Press
Immediately upon the Supreme Court’s ruling, both drug manufacturers and Wall Street investors were celebrating. As one financial analyst pointed out, drug company profits should skyrocket going forward. Not only do the pharmaceutical companies no longer have to worry about safety or side effects, they are exempt from the multi-million dollar court-imposed settlements awarded to victims of their drugs.
One industry critic was quoted by Reuters after the verdict. "Today's court decision provides a disincentive for generic makers of drugs to monitor safety of their products and to make sure that they have a surveillance system in place to detect adverse events that pose a threat to patients," Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group told the news outlet.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was quick to react to the ruling by writing a stern letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, "A consumer should not have her rights foreclosed simply because she takes the generic version of a prescription drug.”
But an attorney for the drug companies, Jay P. Lefkowitz, took the opposing position saying, “It makes much more sense to rely on the judgments of the scientific and medical experts at the FDA, who look at drug issues for the nation at large, than those of a single state court jury that only has in front of it the terribly unfortunate circumstances of an adverse drug reaction."
In other words, if the FDA says something is safe, it doesn’t matter if that decision is wrong or the result of lies, fraud or deception on the part of the world’s pharmaceutical companies. And there’s no way to sue the FDA for being wrong and costing millions of unsuspecting Americans their lives. That result leaves 240 million Americans unprotected from an industry responsible for more preventable deaths in the US than any other cause.