Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tokin' character

Ottawa now has its own Human Rights Commission complaint by a medical marijuana user. The last one was against a Burlington restaurant and ended in (predictable) defeat for the restaurant owner. This time, the complainant is a standup comedian, who's been barred from smoking pot in the smoking area of an Ottawa comedy club.

It would have been nice if the reporter had given a little more background on the complainant, Russell Barth. He's portrayed as just an ordinary schmoe, trying to make a living while struggling with ill health. A quick google search reveals that he's a well-known marijuana rights activist, and has been for several years. I must say, though, his approach is original. Whereas the Burlington pot smoker leaned on the restaurant, Barth's complaint names the Ontario Government as the rights violator, because it is the Ontario Liquor License Act which mandates that people may not use marijuana in licensed premises, or even enter such establishments after having done so.

His complaint to the HRC states that he is not seeking financial damages.
We are seeking an amendment by The Minister to Regulation 719, section 45, subsection 2 of the Liquor Licence Act to accommodate the needs of federally licenced medical marihuana users. In preparing this Human Rights Complaint, however, we have found other Ontario regulations which might place legal medical marihuana patients in similar territory.

These include the Charitable Institutions Act (Reg. 69 s.19), the Day Nurseries Act (reg. 262 s.37(1), the Highway Traffic Act (Reg. 340/94 ss. 14(b), 17(b), and 32.4(2)), the Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act (Reg. 637 s. 14), the Nursing Homes Act (Reg. 832 s. 68) and the Ontario Drug Benefit Act (Reg. 201/96 ss 3(4)1(iv) and 12.1(2)).

While this complaint does not focus on those issues, we suggest that they need to be brought to the attention of current and future regulation drafters so as to avoid future problems.
OK, the guy is upfront about what he wants - to change the law (though the Day Nurseries Act gives me pause - is this about the right to light up around toddlers?). The problem is, this is just another example of the corrupting influence the HRCs have on everything they touch. It's not just the judicial system; now they're being used by activists to crowbar the legislative process.

We have ways to change laws, and activists know better than anyone how it's done. Laws are supposed to be changed through the same legislatures that passed them in the first place, often in response to public pressure. The trouble is, it's a long process, and it doesn't always work. Impatient people then discovered that the courts can be a shortcut to changing the law, but that still involved some personal risk and expense. Now we have the HRCs - Barth no longer has to defiantly light up a joint in a bar, and wait for the police to come and arrest him, so he can fight his campaign through a legal trial. A successful verdict could do the job, but he would still have to put up the money for his own lawyer. Now all he has to do is send in a piece of paper, and the government will do all the work for him.

It will be interesting to see if this method works. The HRC might decide that suing the government is not in their mandate, and reject the complaint. On the other hand, an organization that thinks that they've been entrusted with the elimination of hatred from the human heart is not renowned for its modesty. They might well conclude that they're competent to create law as well.


Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Thank you Good Doctor I have updated my post, good work!

12:16 pm  
Anonymous Antique said...

A "Tokin' character"

For some reason that phrase reminds me of Bored of the Rings, and its appropriately named character, Tim Benzedrine.

"Toke-a-lid! Smoke a lid! Pop the mescalino!
Stash the hash! Gonna crash! Make mine methedrino!
Hop a hill! Pop a pill! For old Tim Benzedrino!"

You know, I'm getting just a bit envious of Canadians. You seem to have hoarded all the entertaining loonies for yourselves. Time to share a little with the rest of the world. How 'bout you export a few to, say, Iran. I understand they are in desparate need of humor.

1:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say that Dr. Mabuse needs to 'bogart' someone's 'doobie' big time.

Mabuse, inhale, inhale!

9:40 am  

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