Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jan 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist
Authors: Richard Watts, and Lindsay Kines
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Owners Of Duncan Company Applaud Court Ruling, Await Appeal Decision

A Duncan company is gearing up to supply nearly 300 customers with 
medical marijuana in the wake of a Federal Court ruling striking down 
a key restriction on sales of the drug.

Island Harvest applauded the decision to declare unconstitutional a 
regulation that had prevented growers from selling marijuana to more 
than one patient.

Federal Court Judge Barry Strayer said the Health Canada policy 
violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"We were so happy," said Eric Nash, who owns Island Harvest with wife 
Wendy Little. "Of course, we're not holding our breath, because we 
know the government will appeal."

Health Canada has said it's reviewing the court decision, but 
declined further comment.

Under Canada's medical marijuana regulations, people can apply to be 
approved as a legal user. Once approved, they can grow it themselves, 
or they can buy it from the federal government, which has contracted 
a company to grow it in an abandoned mine shaft in northern Manitoba. 
Or, under the regulation declared unconstitutional, they could 
designate a person to grow it for them, but that person is limited to 
growing for that one person only.

Under that regulation, Island Harvest could only sell to two patients 
- -- one each for owners Nash and Little.

Nash called the ruling a victory for patients and businesses alike.

"It allows us to supply more patients, to help more people, and 
basically, as a business, actually have a potential to make some 
income," he said. "The impact on us is quite profound, because we've 
had hundreds of patients request our certified organic product over 
the last couple of years.

"Of course, now we have to scramble to get product available," he 
said. "It's a big difference supplying hundreds of people rather than 
two people."

The Vancouver Island Compassion Society, which is waging its own 
constitutional battle against Canada's marijuana laws, also welcomed 
the ruling.

"I feel it's definitely a positive development," society founder 
Philipe Lucas said in an interview.

But he said the decision is fairly narrow and doesn't entirely speak 
to the case against the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, which 
provides marijuana to its 730 members to use as medicine.

A meeting has been scheduled with federal prosecutors and a B.C. 
Supreme Court judge next week to discuss the case.

That Victoria case arises over a 2004 RCMP raid on a house near Sooke 
used by the Vancouver Island Compassion Society to grow its product.

Beginning last year, lawyers for the group have been arguing the 
Health Canada regulations are so restrictive (potential users must 
get a doctor to fill out a 33-page application form) they force 
people on to the black market, and so interfere with their Charter 
right to security of person.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom