International News Desk – At Home: Medical-marijuana user challenges smoking laws –

International News Desk – At Home: Medical-marijuana user challenges smoking laws –

At Home: Medical-marijuana user challenges smoking laws

An Ontario man who has a prescription to use medical marijuana has launched a lawsuit challenging the province’s smoking laws, claiming that restrictions on where he can light up violate his human rights.

Russell Barth, an amateur comedian, has been diagnosed with several disorders, including asthma, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. In 2003, Health Canada issued him a licence to use medical marijuana for his ailments.

Barth lodged the complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission on behalf of himself and his wife (who also uses medical marijuana) after he was barred from smoking marijuana on the patio of an Ottawa comedy club.

According to the CBC, the patio is a designated smoking area, but Ontario regulations ban the use of medicinal marijuana on bar and restaurant patios. Barth’s position is that the rules ?violate the human rights of people with disabilities.?

?If I am having a muscle spasm, if I’m having nausea or anxiety or an asthma attack, I need to have my medicine immediately,? Barth told reporters. ?we’re not asking for special rights; we’re just asking for the right to use cannabis where people use tobacco.?

In part, Barth’s complaint is that, as an amateur comedian, the smoking regulations infringe on his ?ability to perform on stage and to seek possible future employment,? because he needs cannabis every two to three hours to treat his symptoms.

While medical marijuana users may have an exemption to use the substance in a private setting, the Ontario Liquor Licence Act specifically prohibits business owners from allowing it.

If Barth wins his case, it will be interesting to see how legislators handle the new problems it may create. For example, if second-hand marijuana smoke affects nearby customers, will they liable for driving under the influence of a controlled substance? And if accidents result, can the medical-marijuana user be held accountable as a contributing party?

In Foreign News: Spanish fishermen join European protests against fuel costs

Soaring fuel prices have sparked widespread protests in Europe, and commercial fishermen in Spain have joined in, launching a strike on May 30.

Along with workers in Britain, France, and Italy, Spanish fishermen are protesting record-high oil prices that have seen diesel fuel rise ?by 300 per cent in the past five years while fish prices have remained static or declined.? In the past year, even France has seen prices double, in spite of the fact that fuel for fishing boats is subsidized there.

Since Spain is the largest fish producer in Europe, their actions could bring this important food industry to a halt. As well, Spanish consumers are expected to increase pressure on their government to resolve the issue: more seafood is eaten in Spain than in most European countries.

As Spanish fishermen began their strike, thousands of protestors marched on Madrid’s Agriculture Ministry, handing out 20 tonnes of fresh fish to spectators.

In Britain and France, protests have included truck drivers blocking roads and gathering at political rallies, while farmers have also staged protests.

In spite of the growing outcry against fuel prices, the European Commission has refused to offer subsidies to fishing fleets, and the problem is expected to get worse. Prices are holding steady at near-record highs despite a slight decrease in recent days, and analysts are ?predicting steady increases over the months to come.?

While consumers everywhere are feeling the pinch of increased fuel prices, both at the pump and in stores, Europeans have an extra burden. Road taxes on fuel are much higher there than in Canada or the U.S., pushing the average cost of gas in Britain to around $2.20 a litre.