Pubdate: Thu, 10 Apr 2014
Source: Oliver Chronicle (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Oliver Chronicle
Author: Erin Christie


Medical marijuana users say they are in a state of limbo after the
latest court battle halted implementation of new laws governing pot.

New federal laws that would have made it illegal for medical marijuana
users to grow their own plants were set to take effect April 1.

But Federal Court judge Michael Manson put the new laws on hold, at
least temporarily, when he granted a court injunction on March 21.
Without the injunction, patients would have had to destroy their
plants before April 1 and send notification to Health Canada by April
30 stating that they've stopped production and destroyed their plants,
or law enforcement would be notified.

The federal government had argued in its statement of defence that
grow-ops in houses lead to safety problems, such as fire hazards and
mold. The government also argued that home-based grow-ops put people
at risk of robberies.

Marijuana advocate Amanda Stewart, who owns the Valley Hemp Company in
Penticton, said the new laws would make it more difficult for patients
who use marijuana medicinally.

Stewart said she has several customers who use cannabis to treat
chronic illnesses from arthritis to cancer. According to the local
activist, there are approximately 4,000 residents who live between
Osoyoos and Peachland who currently hold medical marijuana licences.

The new regulations would eliminate licences for home-grown pot and
force the 40,000 medical marijuana users in Canada to buy marijuana
from approved commercial producers.

For clients like Red, not his real name, who holds a personal
production licence and uses marijuana to treat irritable bowel
syndrome, the injunction came as a "huge relief."

The 39-year-old farmer/artist said he uses up to seven grams per day
via vaporizer, smoothie, topical solution or extract added to food, to
manage his illness, but said it has created tension at home.

"In my extended family's eyes and in society's eyes I was a criminal
just because of the prohibition laws and propaganda that surrounds
this plant medicine," he said.

"I'm a father, I work, I'm a busy person and I contribute. I'm in no
way a criminal. Cannabis just allows me to have a quality of life so I
can keep up with all my responsibilities."

Red said he is also concerned that the new system will make his drug
much more expensive. He said a ban would cause patients who cannot
afford marijuana under the new program to be forced to choose between
foregoing medical treatment or breaking the law.

According to Health Canada medical marijuana will cost around $5-$12
per gram under the new program. However, viewing evidence presented
during the March 21st hearing, Judge Manson determined that Health
Canada's estimates were inaccurate.

Manson wrote that the evidence revealed a price tag of $8 to $12 per

Red said that is not right. "We're talking about something that grows
easily in my garden and yet they want me to get my medicine from a
licensed producer. Once it starts being produced by large-scale
commercial growers and taxed it isn't going to be affordable for a lot
of us."

To mitigate the issue Red said marijuana needs to be legalized, and
points to Vancouver-based activist Dana Larsen as a strong voice in
the fight for pot reform.

In his publication "Cannabis News," Larsen outlines the benefit of the
sensible policing act. The act, which is proposed by Sensible BC,
would effectively decriminalize possession of cannabis in British
Columbia by redirecting police personnel and resources away from
targeting cannabis possession.

Activities such as cultivation, trafficking and driving under the
influence would remain subject to current policing and penalties.
Minors in possession of cannabis would be treated as though they were
in possession of alcohol.

"The government is messing with people's medical treatment. We're
talking about gouging sick people here," noted Red. "It's a shame." 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D