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The medicinal use of marijuana, in smokeable forms, has been legal in Canada for 15 years. The use of marijuana edibles, however, remained illegal until now.

Following a unanimous ruling, the Canadian Supreme Court has expanded the legal medical marijuana delivery methods for patients. Now it is legal for patients to use medical marijuana in any edible form and topical oils. Smoking the plant remains legal, as well.

The court decided that forcing patients to smoke the dried form of marijuana as their only legal form of ingestion conflicted with the government’s goal of protecting citizens health and safety. The decision signed unanimously by the Supreme Court stated:

“The evidence amply supports the trial judge’s conclusions that inhaling marijuana can present health risks and that it is less effective for some conditions than administration of cannabis derivatives.”

A number of fact-based findings by the trial judge, including that smoking may be harmful to the health of patients and ingesting marijuana in other ways can be more effective and has fewer health risks, were backed up by experts and user reports. The Supreme Court declared that legalizing marijuana usage in different forms, aside from smoking, is “medically reasonable”.

The latest ruling stems from a case involving registered medical marijuana patient, Owen Smith of British Columbia. Smith was arrested in 2009 for selling edibles out of an unlicensed medical marijuana club to patients. The Canadian federal government appealed a judges ruling that it was a violation of rights to allow only smokeable forms of marijuana for patients by saying it was illegal “to obtain or produce drugs based on a subjective belief in their therapeutic value, irrespective of medical need or lawfully available alternative treatments.”

Smith’s lawyers fought the arrest by saying the federal law that regulated medical marijuana usage was subjecting seriously ill people to forms of delivery that may be less effective or even harmful for certain medical conditions.

Patients should have the right to use whichever method of medical marijuana delivery is best suited for the condition being treated. The next steps for licensing and regulating marijuana edibles producers have not yet been decided. This will open up a new sector of the medical marijuana industry, and is a big win for patients.

Photo Credit: ibtimes.com

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