Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 2016
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Metro Canada
Author: Neal Hall
Page: A1


Patients can grow their own, judge rules

A Federal Court judge has struck down the new medical marijuana 
regulations put in place by the Conservative government in 2013, 
finding the new rules are unconstitutional.

But Judge Michael Phelan has decided to suspend striking the ruling 
for six months to allow the federal government to craft new regulations.

The landmark ruling means that the four B.C. plaintiffs in the case, 
heard in Vancouver last year, will be able to continue growing their 
own medical marijuana.

The new regulations were brought in by the Conservative government, 
forcing medical pot users to buy their marijuana from a commercial grower.

Neil Allard of Nanaimo and three other users launched their 
constitutional challenge two years ago, arguing buying from 
commercial growers is more expensive and made them choose between 
their health or their liberty (possible jail time) if they continued 
growing their own.

The court had previously granted an injunction against the new 
medical marijuana regulations, which effectively allowing the 
plaintiffs to continue growing their own until a final ruling in the case.

That injunction will remain in place for the next six months.

In the final ruling, the judge decided the plaintiffs were entitled 
to a declaration that their Section 7 Charter rights had been 
violated by the new regulations and was not justified.

During a news conference Wednesday, lead lawyer John Conroy said the 
four representative plaintiffs were pleased with the ruling.

There are 28,000 people across Canada who have Health Canada 
exemptions to possess and grow pot as medicine.

Since the case began, Conroy said, there are now 40,000 patients in 
Canada with exemptions from being prosecuted for possessing 
marijuana, but no new exemptions have been granted for growing 
medical marijuana since the new regulations were enacted.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Shawn Davey, 29, stood beside 
Conroy during the news conference. "I'm very happy," Davey said. He 
said he was hit by a onetonne truck while riding his motorcycle and 
suffered a brain injury.

He said he grows about two pounds of marijuana - a strain called 
Bubba Kush - a month to alleviate his pain and other affects of the 
accident. He only smokes about 10 per cent of that, he said.

He said the commercially grown pot was too expensive for his low-income budget.

"Now I know exactly what I'm getting," said Davey, who said his hydro 
bill is up to $500 a month for his homegrown pot.

Conroy noted that the judge found the federal government's two expert 
witnesses on the risks of fires and safety of pot cultivation - 
Surrey fire Chief Len Garis and RCMP officer Shane Holmquist - were 
unreliable and not credible because they were biased against pot growers.

He said the ruling found the government's move to ban medical pot 
users from growing their own pot "was arbitrary and overbroad in going too far."
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