Canadians have a constitutional right to grow their own marijuana for medical purposes.
That’s the decision of a Federal Court judge, who today (February 24) ruled that legislation that forbids patients from growing cannabis in their homes is unconstitutional.
At issue was the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), which the former Conservative government put into effect in April 2014, replacing the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR).
That system for the distribution of medicinal marijuana banned patients from growing the plant themselves, stating the only way to obtain cannabis was through a federal mail-order system from a small number of large-scale producers.
The court said forbidding patients to grow violated their rights to security of the person as outlined in Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The judge, the Hon. Michael Phelan, did not strike down the MMPR as a whole. And the decision does not immediately allow anybody with a prescription for medicinal marijuana to begin growing their own cannabis.
Instead, the court suspended its decision for a period of six months and ordered the federal government to respond with revised regulations that recognize patients’ rights as described in today’s decision of the court.
The case was brought forward by four residents of British Columbia. They argued they could not afford to pay for medicinal marijuana and therefore should be allowed to grow their own.
The government argued that allowing people to grow marijuana could harm those exposed to the plant and also pose security and fire risks.
The plaintiffs maintained that patients growing their own cannabis does not threaten the health or safety of themselves or others.
The judge said the evidence proves those claims as factual and accurate; therefore, the Conservative government’s ban on patients growing medicinal marijuana is an unreasonable barrier to access.
The decision also states that lawyers representing the federal government failed to prove that the possibility of patient-produced marijuana being diverted to criminal organizations is a substantial concern that outweighs the benefits of rescinding the ban on home growing.
The case has been named the Allard decision, after Neil Allard, one of the four B.C. plaintiffs and a resident of Nanaimo.
During the six-month suspension of the court’s decision, the right to grow marijuana will remain restricted to those patients previously authorized to do so under MMAR.
It is revised regulations the court has ordered the new Liberal government to draft within six months that should allow for patients prescribed medicinal marijuana to grow their own cannabis.