In pain? You have a right to get high.

Quebecers with handicaps can smoke pot, says tribunal


In pain? You have a right to get high.If it hurts, smoke a joint.

That’s the gist of a recent ruling by Quebec’s human rights tribunal. Prompted by members of the Montreal Compassion Club, the tribunal looked into whether people who suffer discrimination as a result of medical marijuana use should be afforded protection under the Quebec Charter of Rights. It decided they should. The ruling is non-binding and applies only to Quebec, but advocates are hailing it as an important step toward changing drug laws across Canada.

The ruling arose from a 1978 modification to the Quebec Charter to include a clause barring discrimination against “the use of any means to palliate a handicap.” According to advocates, that clause, which is unique to Quebec, means that Quebecers can smoke marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of any handicap without fear of discrimination—however you choose to interpret the word “handicap.” “Where I come from, handicap is another word for ‘situation,’ ” says Charlie McKenzie, an advocate at the Compassion Club. “Someone suffering a migraine who seeks relief in a joint is not a criminal.”

McKenzie, one of the estimated 3,000 Canadians to hold a federal licence to use and produce medical marijuana, asked the tribunal to write an opinion on the subject after reading about several documented cases in which medical marijuana users were discriminated against. In one case, a father lost a custody battle after it became known that he used marijuana. In another, a user was urged by his employer to participate in a detox program in order to retain his pension benefits (the company eventually backed off).

The commission’s report has no legal weight, but it might be used as evidence in court cases, such as the pending dispute between the owner of Gator Ted’s, a Burlington, Ont., roadhouse, and a medical marijuana user asked to leave the bar’s entrance. “It’s better than nothing,” says Stephane Beaulac, a law professor at the Université de Montréal. “It gives advocates something to further their cause.”


In pain? You have a right to get high.

  1. I seem to recall reading about the incident at Gator Ted’s in a previous issue of Maclean’s. While I support the usage of medical marijuana for those with handicaps, chronic pain, or as a pain killer, surely those ‘card carrying members’ wouldn’t be so offended as to abuse our system by calling a human rights violation for being asked not to smoke their joint in the entrance of a family restaurant. Go to your car or around the corner, just as I do if I wish to partake in a cigarette. Its cases like these that make a cruel joke of our justice system, and the recalcitrant behavior of some only compounds the mockery that the HRC already receives.

  2. To The Editor, RE: In pain? You have a right to get high.

    On May 7, 2008, I was asked not to use my federally licensed pot in front of a comedy club in Ottawa. I filed an Ontario Human Rights Complaint against the Ontario government for failing to regulate and protect my medical needs – and the rights of bar owners.

    The federal regulations surrounding medical marijuana are vague in that they say the user should employ “common sense” when using their pot in public. To me, common sense means I should be allowed to use pot where ever people are using tobacco – for example, on the front porch, parking lot, or patio of a bar. But the Ontario Liquor License Act says that any drug under the Federal Controlled Drugs And Substances Act are strictly prohibited – including my legal medical marijuana.

    We will NOT sneak off into alleys, go into our cars, or “stay home”, because we have rights like anyone else. It is arbitrary and unfair to force people using cancer-FIGHTING herbs like cannabis (www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20071226/pot-slows-cancer-in-test-tube), when people using cancer-CAUSING substances for pleasure, habit, or addiction, are allowed to smoke almost anywhere outdoors that they want to.

    Read the details at http://www3.sympatico.ca/kegan23/rata-sept16HRC-response.pdf

    Russell Barth
    Federally Licensed Medical Marijuana User
    Patients Against Ignorance and Discrimination on Cannabis

  3. I smoke pot for i suffer with cronic pain my parents new i was injured on the job 1996 my mother needs to stop talking to mydoctors behind my bsck just aas my father should be known as a justis of the peace who use cst he knew agaisnt his own son who suffers wuth a disability

  4. I’m moving back – anglo canada seems to be full of hateful petty mediocres

  5. What a stupid headline. Can’t you do any better than that?

  6. Hello everyone, I always find it interesting to read an article such as this one and then read the comments following them made by usually made by angry people that couldn't even imagine writing something of this caliber. I also find that the comments made are usually negative, anyway The point I am trying to make is: if you can write better do it! if not leave a comment expressing your opinion without bashing the writer. Oh one last thing learn how to use a spell checker!!! Signed a 22 yr old college student.

  7. I must say if even Macleans are shooting out poorly wrote stories like this about the true benefits of cannabis our news media needs something new.  I would suggest that more media seems to only cover stories that show the bad things some people could do.  

    I mean the fact of the matter is cannabis is completely harmless to 99.9% of the public yet placed in the same standings of deadly drugs like cocaine and other medical pain medications which have pushed some addicted people to do extremely deadly actions without regard to self or others safety.

    The medical field would like the government to put in place regulations on cannabis because they want to keep the public safe from a harmless drug that has never to date killed a person from over dose.  

    The idea of making money off something that can help sick people is not the ideal way to show our FREE HEALTHCARE.  I don’t understand why the government does not finally come to term and allow people 18 and older to buy legally make cannabis in stores.    The idea cannabis is a helpful way to quit other more addictive drugs and very useful is helping people reduce stress.

    I would think that the people just looking to relax after a hard day at work wouldn’t mind paying a few dollars but to force cost on sick people that need cannabis to help over come illness that other medications have not should be given the right to grow in order to reduce medical costs.

    I some times wonder how it’s so easy for people to think that medical cannabis users would risk all the time invested in trying to feel better for a few dollars.  I have been disabled since 2002 after trying to work through the pain for years test after test medication after medication finally finding a more acceptable medication CANNABIS 2011.  

    The stories of the sick people don’t hit home for many people as they have not had the same life of trying to become healthy again.  I would only ask people bare in mind that some of us sick people have gone through in most cases years of testing and trying medication that caused side effects that people could not bare.

    The pain with cannabis is most times not taken away just made more easy to bare and some times helps patients quality of life just a little better maybe a ton better.  Why would we dare try to stop sick people from a happier life?  I don’t want sick people forced to the streets to get something that helps them feel better and is so harmless to people.  

     I would also love to make sure that sick people could get this medication with as little cost as possible and companies with no price cap is far from the goal the government and public should be looking for when it comes to dealing with a medication that can help so many types of sick people.

    I would also ask you people that still have doubts about how powerful cannabis is to ask your medical doctors to name one other medication that has the ability to help so many different types of health problems maybe your views might change.  

    I would also ask that Macleans request a interview with Dr David Saul if they would like more medical information about cannabis and the many great health benefits his patients have had while using cannabis.  The doctor has heard from many of us patients about or struggles finding the stains that help out health problems the best and the huge costs for relief.  

    I as a medical cannabis user don’t understand how the government has been able to get away with burning of all the cannabis our police take in from crime when medical users could benefit from those drugs.  The cost could be reduced and money given back into the public stream rather then turned into smoke.   

    The government has many ways to help medical patients but refuse to even try to find ways to reduce the cost to sick people then wonder why there are black market growers and sellers?

    The other part that has upset me is the police suggesting that there are fire safety issues with medical legal grow ops yet have not given any training courses offered to medical legal growers.  I would suggest we have training courses for most things deemed dangerous for a reason but the fact of the matter is that no legal grower has caused any fires to a home. 
    The fire departments and police know full well that fires in grow ops are caused by splitting into the power of neighbors or main power grid by passing to avoid detection for illegal grow labs and still rare.

    The idea that us sick people have to deal with no price cap companies because some people might try to break into our homes is complete madness and to top it off the only laws that got effected by the danger of home invasion growing plants or getting caught with too much cannabis the harmless drug.   

    I can’t understand how home invasion laws never changed what about armed robbery for months pharmacies across the country have been robbed for pain killers and other regulated pill medication I might add.      I wonder do the people behind the decks feel safe maybe they should speak up about the medication causing these crazed addicted people into robbing them?.

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