The Liberal government has six months to come up with new rules for home-grown medicinal cannabis.
People are forced to the black market because they have such limited access anywhere else.
On Wednesday, a federal court judge struck down The Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations introduced by the Conservative government in 2013, which restricted the rights of medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis.
“The access restrictions did not prove to reduce risk to health and safety or to improve access to marihuana — the purported objectives of the regulation,” Justice Michael Phelan wrote.
Four British Columbia residents launched the constitutional challenge, arguing the previous Conservative legislation violated their charter rights.
According to the plaintiff lead counsel John Conroy, the legislation denied patients access to the cannabis, leaving some with no choice but to break the law.
“People are forced to the black market because they have such limited access anywhere else,” said Chelsea Fisher, medical marijuana patient.
Fisher has to obtain cannabis from the black market, where the prices are as high as 20 dollars per gram. For her needs, that’s over 1000 dollars each month. If she could grow them at home, it would cost her only 25 cents per gram.
This ruling continues an injunction for around 28,000 Canadians who were already licensed to produce their own cannabis. It may open the door for new patients in six months’ time.
“It gives you complete control of what kind of medicine you are consuming. You can choose to go organic, you can choose the type of strain you want to grow that fits what you need,” said growth technician Vincent Vuong.
Government lawyers argued growing cannabis at home posed security, fire and health risks for patients and neighbours.
“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,” Phelan wrote.