Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 2016
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Laura Kane
Page: 7


Law Struck Down: Court ruling will allow patients to grow their own 

The federal government will have to mull over a new system to
distribute medical marijuana and Canada's multimillion-dollar cannabis
industry was thrown into flux Wednesday after a judge ruled patients
can grow their pot at home.

Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan struck down a law introduced by the
former Conservative government that required patients to buy cannabis
through the mail from licensed producers, writing it was an "arbitrary
and over-broad" violation of Charter rights.

He suspended his decision for six months to allow the Liberal
government time to craft new legislation. The federal government has
30 days to appeal.

"It's a victory, for not just medical cannabis patients, but really
all Canadians," said Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer who represented the four
B.C. plaintiffs in the constitutional challenge.

Canadians who use cannabis for illness or pain have faced regulatory
upheaval in recent years. The old Medical Marijuana Access Regulations
allowed licence-holders to grow pot themselves or find designated growers.

The former Tory government nixed those rules in 2013 when it
introduced Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, which required
patients to order cannabis from commercial producers.

A court injunction has kept the old program alive for about 28,000
licence-holders. Phelan extended that injunction Wednesday until a
further court order.

Shawn Davey, one of the four representative plaintiffs, said he
couldn't afford the amount of cannabis he needs under the rules
brought in by the Conservatives.

"Marijuana has helped me 110 per cent," said Davey, who suffered a
severe brain injury after being hit by a truck while riding his
motorcycle. "(Pharmaceutical drugs) make me feel like nothing but
crap. This makes me feel like heaven."

Other plaintiffs in the suit were Neil Allard of Nanaimo and Tanya
Beemish and David Hebert of Surrey.

While Phelan's decision changes nothing in the short-term, it breeds
uncertainty about the future of the fledgling medical-pot business.

Health Minister Jane Philpott said she was reviewing the decision with
the Justice Department and it's too early to say whether the
government would appeal.

"We're obliged to ensure that Canadians who need access to medical
marijuana can do so," she told reporters. "We're going to have to
completely review the regulations."

The Liberals have committed to legalizing recreational marijuana, but
have said little about their plans for medical cannabis.

Philpott said the two should be treated as "separate

John Conroy, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, urged the government to
get to work quickly on crafting new legislation. He said marijuana
dispensaries, which have popped up in large numbers in Vancouver and
Toronto despite being illegal, should be included in the regime.

He applauded sections of Phelan's judgment that criticized federal
government experts who testified that home-growing bred grave
public-safety risks.
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