Court rules patients can keep growing marijuana

Janie Ginsberg
Gary Galitsky is a patient and designated producer for himself and another person. Janie Ginsberg Gary Galitsky is a patient and designated producer for himself and another person.

Janie Ginsberg
Life Reporter

A federal court has issued an injunction that will continue to allow medical marijuana to be grown in private dwellings.

Mr. Justice Michael Manson ruled March 21 to allow Canada’s current practice in the production of medical marijuana despite pending legislation banning it as of April 1.

The injunction temporarily prevents the new law from making the production of medical marijuana in private dwellings illegal.

British Columbia lawyer John Conroy represented patients in court while seeking an interim injunction to support the rights of designated patients to grow.

The ruling, released Mar. 21 said Manson granted limited relief by preserving certain rights under Canada’s Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, which allows growers to continue production until a pending trial.

“There was an injunction that let this MMAR program continue for another nine to twelve months before they can get a court case,” said Gary Shapiro, a patient permitted to use marijuana under the rules.

Without the injunction, patients would be forced to give up growing their own medication.

“I’m not putting myself right now in a market (to buy marijuana). If it were changed on April 1, that is going to cost me more, when operational costs are the same on all strains,” Shapiro said.

The Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement report for Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations notes a potential price impact.

The report says prices are expected to increase to about $8 a gram, rising to almost $9 in future from $2 to $5 a gram for homegrown.

Federal court documents said the proposed move to prevent home growing is unconstitutional, infringing on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by denying medically approved patient’s reasonable access and production of their medicine.

Section 7 of the Charter states “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Federal court documents outlining the defendant’s legal position argue the elimination of personal production does not violate Section 7.

“The rights to life and security of the person do not encompass the right to a particular drug of choice where reasonable alternatives are available,” the Crown told court.

Designated grower Mike Federman does not think the pharmaceutical alternatives to marijuana are reasonable.

Marijuana, he said, “will still give them the calming sedative effect without (making them) catatonic, which a lot of these (prescription) drugs do.”

Federman is currently applying for a commercial growing license and cites medical reasons as one of the most motivating factors.

“I would like the grower to work hand in hand with the medical community to grow the proper strains that are most effective for the particular ailments,” he said.

In a statement on March 21 following the injunction, Health Canada said since the Marihuana Medical Access Program, introduced in 2001 in response to a Court decision, the number of people authorized to possess marijuana for medical purposes grew to 40,000 from less than 100.

The quick expansion led to unexpected consequences of public health, safety, and security – with risks of home invasions and toxic mold, said the Health Canada statement.

Gary Galitsky, a patient and designated producer for himself and another patient, blames Health Canada for the situation.

“The system did get abused a little bit, there’s no question. Because of the abuse they’re blaming the patients, but in essence this all could have been prevented with a proper rule in place where there had to be some checks and balances before licenses were issued to grow anywhere,” he said.

The Health Canada statement said the government would be reviewing the decision in detail and considering options.