Blog Canada Feature Full Legal

First ever Medical Cannabis case to reach the Supreme Court of Canada


Last thursday we heard the news that my medical cannabis extract decision has once again been appealed by the Canadian Government. It is now destined to become the first case to present evidence regarding medical cannabis to the Supreme Court of Canada. The supreme Court does not typically accept new evidence and the government has not challenged the scientific facts of the trial.

Read for yourself the unchallenged scientific facts that were accepted by Justice Robert Johnston of the BC Supreme Court in April of 2012.


(Image by Owen Smith)

Read the Full Decision Here

From Dr. Pate’s evidence I accept:

The active compounds of the cannabis plant are manufactured in cells at the base of, and stored in structures called glandular trichomes.

The main active compounds are primarily tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) and cannabidiol (“CBD”).

Generally speaking, the concentration of glandular trichomes increases as one moves higher up the cannabis plant, with fewer glandular trichomes near the root, and many near the top.

Viewed microscopically, the glandular trichomes appear to be stalk rising from the plant surface with a globular top. Dr. Pate accurately analogized this structure to a golf ball on a tee.

These glandular trichomes contain resin, and it is in the resin where the plant secretes THC and CBD.

The highest concentration of glandular trichomes is found on or near the outer surface of unfertilized female flowers.

From the perspective of either a medicinal or recreational marihuana user, it is the contents of the glandular trichomes that are important.

There are various methods for separating the glandular trichomes from the plant itself: one can agitate dried flowers from the marihuana plant over a fine mesh or screen, causing the glandular trichomes to fall off and pass through the mesh, leaving the host plant material behind; one can immerse the plant material in cold water, then strain the water through a fine mesh to capture the glandular trichomes.

Both these methods remove the glandular trichomes intact, with the resin still contained inside.

If the results of these methods of extraction are compressed, it is often referred to as “hash” if the dry sieve method is used, or “bubble hash” if it is wet sieved. If it is not compressed, but left in dry powdered form, it is often referred to – erroneously according to Dr. Pate – as “kif” or “pollen.”

Other methods extract the resin from the glandular trichomes: one might rub the flowers in their hands,then scrape the resin off the hand; one could soak either the trichome-bearing plant, or just separated trichomes themselves, in fat such as butter or food-grade oil, as the contents of glandular trichomes are fat soluble. The same applies to alcohol, as the glandular trichome contents are also alcohol soluble.

The results of fat-based extraction methods are often referred to as “cannabis cooking oil” or “cannabis butter.”

Other methods involve using petrochemical solvents suchas petroleum ether to take up the resin from the glandular trichome, then evaporating off the solvent.The results of the solvent-based extraction method is often called “hash oil.”

These methods result in separation of THC, CBD, and other potentially active ingredients called terpenes from the plant matter.

There is no known medical utility to the plant matter that is left behind after the glandular trichomes, or their contents, are separated from the host cannabis plant, or in the glandular trichomes themselves after the resin is extracted from them.

A caveat on that statement is the possibility that there may be some cannabinoid inside a leaf, not as readily accessible or as easily rendered as the glandular trichomes on the leaf surface.

If the glandular trichomes containing the active compounds are not separated from the cannabis plant, a user can access the active compounds by smoking dried plant material with the glandular trichomes still attached.

Release of the active compounds does not require heat as high as that produced by smoking, and an alternative way of inhaling the active compounds is through a vaporizer, which releases the active compounds at a lower temperature than smoking. Vaporizers cost approximately $500.00.

The medical benefits from THC include anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects, increasing appetite in those whose appetites are suppressed by medical treatments such as are administered to AIDS patients,and alleviation of nausea in those taking chemotherapy for cancers.

The well-known non-medical effect of THC is its psychoactive effects, an unwanted side effect from a medical point of view, a primary benefit from a recreational user’s point of view.

CBD has some anti-inflammatory benefits, including some analgesic effects.

There may be some potential anti-psychotic benefit from CBD in high doses, but that has not yet been fully studied.

The glandular head of the trichome also is known to contain terpenes.

Terpenes are compounds commonly associated with aromas,for example pine or mint.

CBD also has some potential to inhibit the metabolism of THC by the liver, thus reducing the body’s ability to intercept and eliminate the medical benefit of THC.

There are different mechanisms for getting the therapeutic components, whether THC or CBD into the body, and Dr. Pate described each.

One can ingest the compound orally: if one were taking THC for gastro-intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome this would arguably deliver the therapeutic benefit more directly to the site of pathology.

Oral ingestion also has the benefit of prolonging the effects of the drug in the system, with the corresponding detriment of taking longer to build a therapeutic level of the drug than would occur with smoking, for example.

Because of the slow build-up of the drug in the body,dosages are more difficult to manage, as it takes sometime to determine when the optimum therapeutic level has been reached.

Because orally ingested THC or CBD stays in the system longer, it would be better for someone with a chronic condition of pain or glaucoma, where some level of therapeutic dosage would remain while the patient slept.

Smoking achieves a far quicker benefit, as the drug enters the body through the lungs and is dispersed rapidly.

The level of THC in the body also declines much more quickly with smoked marihuana than with orally ingested THC.

Smoking would be a better way to take a therapeutic dose in case of a sharp increase in pain or discomfort.

Smoking also has harmful side effects associated with inhaling smoke which, although less deleterious than tobacco smoke, pose risks to health nonetheless.

A fourth application or ingestion method would be to spray a solution containing the active compound under the tongue, called trans-mucosal. Its advantages include faster assimilation of the drug, like smoking, without the risks associated with smoking.

There are some cannabis, or similar, products that have gone through the clinical trial process and become available.

One is Sativex, an extract of the cannabis marihuana plant that contains THC and CBD in equal proportions, taken as an oral spray.

Another is Marinol, a synthetic THC in a sesame oil capsule.

Another is Nabalone, similar to Marinol.

There remains a risk that a cannabis compound mixed with another drug, like an opioid or alcohol, can have worse results than either drug alone, and as well, the risk that the psychoactive effects of THC can adversely affect judgment, perception and reaction in those operating automobiles or dangerous machinery.

Some research is being conducted on cannabis products,but a few clinical trials are needed to bring cannabis products to market.

However one takes the active compounds in cannabis marihuana, it is unlikely that one will suffer any long lasting harm from an overdose.

There is some potential for terpenes to have a role in the efficacy of cannabinoids, but this also needs much more research.

The cannabis marihuana plant and its active compounds are unlikely to cause physical harm in themselves,unlike other drug compounds where taking too much can lead to death.

It is not possible to tell by looking what the contents of a cookie might be, or what concentration of THC a capsule of oil might contain.


Read the Full Decision Here


Read More from Owen Smith on the Cannabis Digest Blogs

Owen Smith
Owen has been writing for the Cannabis Digest since 2009, covering a wide range of topics related to medical cannabis. Owen’s articles are closely related to his constitutional challenge to legalized cannabis edibles extracts and oils. He is the founder of Ethical Growth Consulting

Leave a Reply