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Judge strikes down ban on medical pot users growing their own plants

Last Updated Feb 24, 2016 at 3:43 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Legislation that's been in place since 2013 has banned home grown medicinal pot

Four British Columbians launched this case, arguing the Conservative legislation violated their charter rights

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Federal Court judge has struck down a ban on medicinal marijuana patients growing their own pot. The ruling has been suspended for six months to allow Ottawa to rewrite the law.

Judge Michael Phelan also extended the injunction that allowed people who held licences to grow their own marijuana to continue until a further court order. In his ruling, the judge says patients have shown marijuana can be produced safely, with limited risk to public safety and is consistent with the promotion of public health.

“We need to stop arresting peaceful Canadians for pot possession. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent and wasted enforcing those laws when that money should be spent elsewhere,” says pot activist Jodie Emery.

Legislation that’s been in place since 2013 has banned home grown medicinal pot, instead, requiring users to buy it from licensed producers. People who grow at home have been protected by an injunction since then, but if it’s lifted, lawyer Kirk Tousaw says criminalizing patients who want access to affordable medicine are having their charter rights violated.

“We think that’s inappropriate in a free and democratic society. As a matter of fact, it’s barbaric to lock human beings in cages for growing a plant that improves their quality of life.”

Lawyers for the federal government argue the new regime would ensure patients have a supply of safe medical marijuana while protecting the public from the potential of grow-ops.

“Obviously, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for patients that have been protected by the injunction to be criminalized overnight,” adds Tousaw.

The original case was launched by four British Columbians who argued the Conservative legislation violated their charter rights. Neil Allard is one of those four, and he expects to bring it to the Federal Court of Appeal if today’s decision is not in their favour.

The Liberals have committed to regulating and legalizing recreational marijuana but have said little about their plans for medical marijuana since being elected last October.