Published Wednesday, 08 February 2012
James Torrens-Spence outside the High Court after his unsuccesful legal bid. (© Presseye)
James Torrens-Spence brought judicial review proceedings over the law which prohibits its unlicensed use.
The 58-year-old, from Downpatrick, Co Down, claimed he was discriminated against and suffered a breach of his human rights.
But a judge at Belfast High Court threw out his case after ruling that he was involved in an "impermissible attempt" to challenge an act of Parliament.
Mr Torrens-Spence was fined £300 last year after being convicted of cultivation and possession of cannabis.
Appearing as a personal litigant on Wednesday, he sought an order quashing the decision not to adjourn his criminal case so he could mount an abuse of process argument.
But his challenge also involved claims of an abuse of power in how the Executive applies the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.
The court heard how he has taken cannabis through a vaporiser in order to stop smoking tobacco.
He argued that the Class B drug should have parity with both alcohol and tobacco.
Mr Torrens-Spence told the court that a failure of policy had resulted in "horrendous discrimination".
However, Mr Justice Treacy ruled that he had failed to establish an arguable case at the preliminary stage of proceedings.
The judge pointed out that he could have appealed his conviction but has not done so.
He also rejected the applicant's claims that he was not challenging primary legislation.
"The reality appears to be that he complains about the fact that the Misuse of Drugs Act on the one hand does not criminalise possession or use of alcohol or tobacco, whereas the legislation does in his view unfairly criminalise responsible users of cannabis such as himself," Mr Justice Treacy said.
"Irresprective of whether or not the applicant regards himself as a responsible user of cannabis which, as he claims, has helped wean him off tobacco, that does not have any relevance to Parliament's view which is that a person who cultivates cannabis and is in possession of it is guilty of criminal conduct."
Dismissing the application for judicial review, the judge added: "The court's function is to interpret the legislation as enacted, not to look behind the legislation."
Outside the court Mr Torrens-Spence said he was "appalled" by the ruling.
He asked: "How is it I'm allowed to smoke myself to death or drink myself to death and no policeman or court in the land can prevent me from doing that?"
Yet for trying to protect my health by switching from smoking tobacco to vaporising cannabis I'm prosecuted."