1kg Possession of Cannabis, One Man’s Ten Day Supply:
Canadian medical cannabis patient needs 100g per day of cannabis to manage his condition. The courts say too bad.
Feature image: 3 Haute-de-France
This May, Canada’s Federal Court granted medical cannabis patient, Allan Harris, the right to possess one kilogram of cannabis. Harris has a prescription for 100g of cannabis per day. The court ruling initially entitled him to 1kg possession, or a 10-day supply.
Sadly, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal overturned the decision in a separate court ruling.
Harris’ initial victory was founded on the argument that the country’s 150g public possession limit violated his rights under the Canadian constitution. Harris said that the limit made it impossible for him to leave home for more than a day. Additionally, Harris is forced to order his cannabis (by mail) up to 156 times per year, costing over $5,000 in shipping alone.
Harris claimed that the situation violated his rights to mobility and equality and caused him “irreparable harm.”
Some Patients Find Themselves Under “House Arrest”
The initial ruling, handed down by Justice Henry Brown, finds Harris essentially under house arrest because he is cannot carry enough medicine to last more than 24 hours.
While Justice Brown called Harris’ cannabis prescription “extraordinarily high,” he noted that it was not the court’s place to question the decision of Harris’ doctor.
As reported by the CBC News, noted cannabis activist Jodie Emery said that, “Medical cannabis has been under attack by government for decades, and it is only through the courts that patients are granted protection from harmful, unjustified cannabis prohibition laws.”
She went on to describe that 100g per day would be 100 1g joints, an impossible sum. Cannabis patients with high allowable amounts are typically making oils and salves, which require a lot of dry bud.
Daily Limits are Arbitrary, so is 1kg possession
Dr. Jürgen Rehm, a scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, called the current regulations “a mess.” He argued that it is standard for any patient to be able to carry a ten-day supply of their medicine.
Rehm has now called on the federal government to step in. He asks them to “start putting the same scrutiny on medical cannabis as on any other medication.”
In further support, cannabis lawyer, Jack Lloyd calls the possession limit “arbitrary” and welcomes further court rulings on the 1kg possession case.
Justice David Near of the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the decision on appeal after Canada’s Attorney General claimed that the precedent caused “irreparable harm to the public interest.”
Justice Near cited concerns that the decision amounted to a suspension of Canada’s 150g possession limit without a proper review. The appeal court judge noted that the limit exists with good reason. It’s in place to reduce the risk of theft, diversion, and possible violence associated with patients possessing such a large amount of cannabis.
Why a Patient Could Need 100g per Day
Health Canada’s dosing recommendations suggest a dose in the range of 2.5mg-210mg of THC per day.
Harris uses his cannabis to make cannabis oil that he puts into gel capsules. Basically, yields of medicinal oil extracted from cannabis are in the range of 10%. This means that Harris’ 1kg possession and 100g of daily cannabis might only equate to 10g of oil per day.
That may still seem like a lot, but as Harris says “If you took a gram of my oil, you’d be asleep, but for me taking a gram that’s pretty well nothing.”
The dosage discussed in his case has no precedent in scientific literature. However, in spite of his remarkable dosage, Harris doesn’t appear to be Canada’s #1 cannabis consumer.
Following a 2015 court decision, another man, Philip Newmarch, who uses 167g of cannabis per day was granted the right to possess 5 kg of cannabis. Further, the law allows Newmarch to grow 813 plants and store 37kg. Newmarch suffers from “severe arthritis and spinal cord disease, hepatitis C, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, bi-lateral carpal tunnel syndrome, neuropathy of his brachial artery, and seven herniated discs.”
Even 100g of Cannabis a Day Won’t Kill You
Basically, experts note that the appropriate dose of cannabis is different for every patient.
Cannabis is a unique medicine because it does not cause dangerous overdoses. Research shows that people who chronically consume cannabis, experience widespread cannabinoid receptor downregulation and desensitization. This means that they require more cannabis to get the desired effect.
Scientists have not yet studied the effects of doses in this range. However, it’s plausible that patients, such as Newmarch and Harris, could find themselves requiring extremely high doses; especially following years of daily cannabis consumption.
Finally, it’s unclear whether Harris intends to take his 1kg possession case to the Supreme Court. If he does, it will be the final court of appeal in Canada’s legal system.