Pubdate: Sat, 22 Mar 2014
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Times Colonist
Author: Jeff Bell (with files from Canadian Press)
Page: A3


Licensed medical-marijuana users allowed to keep producing plants

Advocates of medical marijuana are encouraged by a Federal Court
decision to allow licenced individuals to keep producing homegrown

Judge Michael Manson issued an injunction Friday exempting patients
who are licensed to possess or grow medical marijuana under current
rules, either for themselves or someone else, from new regulations
that would have made the practice illegal.

A trial on the constitutional argument is expected within nine months
to a year.

A group of patients behind a constitutional challenge asked for an
injunction to preserve the status quo until their legal case goes to

The federal government announced plans to overhaul the production of
medical pot last year, arguing the current system had grown out of
control and was rife with problems ranging from unsafe growops to
infiltration by criminals.

The new regulations, which begin April 1, restrict medical marijuana
production to commercial growers, though the court injunction does not
affect the new licensing system.

There are 37,000 people in Canada allowed to possess and, in many
cases, grow marijuana - up from 100 in 2001.

Some individual growers have developed strains of pot over the years
that best meet their needs, said Dana Larsen of Sensible B.C., a group
that supports decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana.

For Doug Brown of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, the
injunction could be enough to get him to resume growing his own
marijuana under licence.

Brown, 36, did just that until last summer to deal with the pain of
sciatica and deterioration in some of his joints. But he pulled the
plug after hearing about the federal rules against home licensees.

The court ruling is cause for optimism, Brown said, but he will wait
to see how it turns out.

The injunction doesn't have a big effect on the compassion society, he
said, but will benefit many people. He said his organization provides
medical marijuana to its members, but many others grow their own supply.

People's needs are varied, Brown said.

"Obviously, there's thousands and thousands of strains [of marijuana],
so we can't provide the exact one for every single person that comes
through our door," he said. "There's no exact dosage for an exact
ailment for everybody."

Marijuana is especially good for dealing with pain, and improving
appetite and sleep, he said.

Dieter MacPherson, executive director of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers
Club, said the federal court's ruling balances public interest with
patient rights.

"It's true that this will be a burden on the new licenced producers,
but I don't think that a commercial enterprise should trump patients'
ability to produce their own medicine."

He said "diversity of choice" for medical marijuana users is
important, adding that not all users have the wherewithal to grow
their product.

The cannabis buyers club has about 6,000 members overall, about 4,000
of them active. MacPherson said he knows a number of people who grow
their own marijuana under licence, and that cost is an important factor.

"It's right to say a lot of these patients have invested a lot of
trial-and-error into producing strains that work for them."

MacPherson said medical marijuana helps a wide range of

"Therapeutically, it's been shown to be beneficial for MS, cancer,
AIDS, Parkinson's in some cases. It's got wonderful painkilling
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