Last week Canadian cannabis patients scored a major victory when a federal judge in Vancouver issued a temporary injunction allowing licensed pot patients and their designated caregivers to continue growing their own medicine beyond the Conservative Party's mandated April 1 deadline.
The injunction will stand until a constitutional challenge to the federal government's revised medical marijuana regulations can be heard in court.
In 2013, Health Canada announced that patients and cannabis caregivers could no longer grow their own after April 1, 2014 – meaning that all medical marijuana in Canada had to be obtained through licensed commercial cultivators. Additionally, as of April Fool's Day, patients had to destroy any medicine still in their possession or face police prosecution.
However, the injunction did not change Health Canada’s mandate that patients possess no more than 150 grams (5.3 ounces) of dried cannabis flowers.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued those new regs violate their right to access their medicine because medical pot provided by commercial growers is expected to be more expensive. Also, being unable to grow prevents patients and caregivers from having control over the desired strains for effective medication.
In his decision, Judge Michael Manson wrote: "This group will be irreparably harmed by the effects of the (new Health Canada regulations).
"I find that the nature of the irreparable harm that the applicants will suffer under the (updated regulations) constitutes a 'clear case,' which outweighs the public interest in wholly maintaining the enacted regulations."
During the hearing last week, the attorney for the federal government argued there is no constitutional right to "cheap medicine" and there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate specific strains of cannabis are better suited to a particular ailment.
The injunction does not supplant the soon-to-be established commercial cultivation system, but rather allows patients to continue growing their own – at least until the constitutionality of the regulations is determined.