Canada top court rules marijuana cookies, teas legal

A dried cannabis bud is seen in this March 18, 2014, file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A dried cannabis bud is seen in this March 18, 2014, file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada's Supreme Court on Thursday expanded the definition of medical marijuana to allow users to bake it into cookies or brew pot leaves for tea instead of only smoking it.

The case involved a marijuana club baker who was charged with drug trafficking after being caught with 200 cannabis cookies.

Government rules restricted medical marijuana to "dried" pot leaves that could only be smoked.

But many users felt smoking marijuana was harmful, in the same way cigarettes are.

In striking down sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the court said people were being forced "to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one."

Health Minister Rona Ambrose, whose Conservative government has had several unrelated policies overturned by the top court, staunchly opposes marijuana use and reacted angrily to the decision.

"Frankly, I'm outraged by the Supreme Court," she told a press conference.

Ambrose insisted that only Health Canada has the "authority and expertise" to approve and regulate drugs.

"Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which of course, requires a rigorous safety review and clinical trials with scientific evidence," she said.