A federal judge in Vancouver struck down a ban introduced by Canada’s previous Conservative government that prevented medical cannabis users from growing their own cannabis. The decision gives the Canadian government six months to amend the law and create new medical cannabis laws.
In 2013 when the government overhauled the medical cannabis laws, they argued the mail-order system was safer for the patient and other Canadians who could’ve potentially be affected by growing at home.
Vancouver judge Michael Phelan said the initial ruling was arbitrary and violated the liberty of the charter.
“The access restrictions did not prove to reduce risk to healthy and safety or to improve access to marijuana – the purported objectives of the regulation,” Phelan wrote in his ruling. “I agree that the plaintiffs have, on a balance of probabilities, demonstrated that cannabis can be produced safely and securely with limited risk to public safety and consistently with the promotion of public health.”
The four plaintiffs in the case brought up issues pertaining to the original charter put in place three years ago. They argued they could not afford the medical cannabis sold in the commercial system, as well as not being able to choose which strands they received.
Neil Allard, one of the plaintiffs, said he consumes between 10-20 grams a day that would – through the commercial system – cost him $3,000 a month. Instead, with judge Phelan’s ruling, Allard can grow his own monthly allotment for a mere $230 a month.
Jane Philpott, Federal Health Minister, said they will respond to the court’s ruling and admitted they could introduce looser regulations concerning medical cannabis.
“My priority is to make sure, on the matter of medical marijuana, that Canadians who require access to it have fair access. At the same time, of course, the regulations were put there for a purpose, and we will make sure, if continued regulations are required, that they will be done in a matter that is acceptable to the court,” Philpott said in a press conference in Ottawa.
After the ruling came down, shares of medical marijuana producers dropped between nine and 12 percent and will likely drop more over the course of the next few weeks as medical cannabis patients will begin legally growing their own cannabis.