A young man in court for possession and consumption of ganja raised legal questions in the minds of Magistrate Valdis Foldats and Crown counsel Greg Walcolm after the defendant produced a prescription for ganja.
No convictions were recorded against him, so his name will not be published.
He was charged with having 2.79 grams of the illegal drug in George Town in November last year and testing positive for consumption. He appeared in court in May, July and August.
The matter was set for sentencing on Oct. 2, when he produced a medical doctor’s prescription for cannabis oil. The magistrate asked the prosector for “an update on the medical marijuana scene.”
This week, Crown counsel Greg Walcolm advised that the law provides that the medical practitioner who prescribes cannabis oil has to be licensed specifically to prescribe it – in addition to his regular license.
The magistrate asked how to distinguish between testing a person whose use is recreational and testing a person whose use is prescriptive. “There is no way, is there?”
“No, sir,” Mr. Walcolm replied.
They agreed that the situation put the court – and the police – in a difficult position.
The magistrate wondered whether users of medical ganja should be required to carry an ID card specifically saying they had a prescription.
He questioned what the legal limit for ganja would be for someone driving.
Mr. Walcolm suggested there could be implications affecting all of society.
The magistrate wondered if an added “marker” could be mandated for medical ganja. In that situation, if a test showed the presence of the marker substance it would mean it was medical ganja.
“Sorry to use you as a guinea pig,” the magistrate told the defendant, “but you can understand the court’s concern.”
Typically, first-time ganja offenders are monitored over a period of time and may have no conviction recorded if they stay clean.
The magistrate said he normally would have put the young man, now 19, on probation for a year, with random testing. He could not do that however, because the defendant would be testing positive from the prescribed ganja.
His task was made easier, he indicated, because the defendant did test clean before he produced the prescription. Also, his pre-sentence report was excellent and he wanted to pursue further education.
The magistrate finalized the case by imposing a costs order for $200 to cover costs of the drug tests.