Licenced medical marijuana patients have been given a temporary reprieve by a federal judge.
Today (March 21), Justice Michael D. Manson granted an injunction that exempts currently licenced marijuana users and producers from the terms of the incoming Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), set to take effect on April 1.
This mean that people who hold licenses issued under the old rules will still be permitted to possess and/or grow medicinal marijuana.
According to the decision, people with a valid Authorization to Possess, Designated-person Production, or Personal-use Production Licence "are exempt from the repeal of the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations and any other operation of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations [MMPR] which are inconsistent with the operation of the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, to the extent that such an Authorization to Possess shall remain valid until such time as a decision in this case is rendered."
Under the MMPR, Health Canada will no longer grow or sell marijuana for medical purposes. Individuals would also be barred from growing their own product; anyone needing marijuana for medical purposes would therefore be required to purchase dried marijuana directly from a licensed grower by mail.
The decision chronicled the cases of four individuals who attested that under the MMPR, they would no longer be able to afford to purchase medicinal marijuana. One individual stated they were able to grow their own marijuana for $.50 to $2 per gram; under the new regulations, users would likely have to pay between $5 and $12 for a gram of marijuana. The applicants in the case feared this would mean they would no longer be able to access marijuana to treat chronic conditions.
Currently more than 16,500 British Columbians are licensed to possess medicinal marijuana.
Canada Health Minister Rona Ambrose reacted to the court's decision to grant an injunction on Twitter.
"We are disappointed with this decision," she wrote. "Allowing marijuana to be grown in Canadian homes and neighbourhoods has led to serious abuse. This includes public health and safety risks such as criminal diversion, fire hazards, and mould infestations. We will review the decision in detail."
In a press release, Dana Larsen, director of the Sensible B.C. campaign, lauded the ruling: “The Courts made the right decision this morning."
“Patients should be able to grow their own medicinal cannabis for pennies, instead of being forced to buy it at street prices from these new government-licensed cannabis cartels. Some of these patients have been growing for years, and have developed strains that are tailored to their medical needs. Forcing patients to destroy their seeds will wipe these unique strains off the map causing irreparable damage.”
Sensible B.C. is planning a day of action on April 1, encouraging Canadians to contact Rona Ambrose, federal Minister of Health, to protest the implementation of the MMPR.