Simple Possession of Marijuana in Ontario

The Ontario Court of Appeal in R. v. Parker on July 31, 2000 ruled that Parliament needed to change Canada's marijuana law prior to July 31, 2001. The Court declared:

"the marihuana prohibition in s. 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to be invalid. I would suspend the declaration of invalidity for a period of twelve months from the release of these reasons."

The expectation was that Parliament would fill the void created by the need to permit possession of marijuana for medical purposes:

"faced with the need to open up the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to address the constitutional defect, Parliament has the resources to address the broader issue of medical use. By way of example only, people without the means to grow marihuana themselves may be dependent upon caregivers to obtain the drug. This is a complex matter that, while not necessarily implicating Charter rights (although it may), is not something a court is equipped to deal with. Put another way, Parliament is not bound to legislate to the constitutional minimum. It can adopt the optimal and most progressive legislative scheme that it considers just."

Parliament has not filled the void with new legislation. Rather, the Canadian Government passed Regulations (Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, SOR/2001-227) to govern this concern.

On October 7, 2003 there were several important decisions made by the Ontario Court of Appeal:


The police record of criminal charges, whether or not persons are ever convicted, may have an impact for life. Persons charged (not even convicted) may be barred from entry into the United States. Persons who admit to smoking marijuana anytime in their lives may also be barred. We live in a strange new world where acquittal or withdrawal of charges may not remove the stigma of a criminal charge.