Medical marijuana patients can grow their own medicine, court rules
'This allows a patient and a doctor to control their own medicine'
A medical marijuana patient in Windsor, Ont. is applauding a Federal Court ruling striking down prohibitions on patients growing their own cannabis.
Judge Michael Phelan ruled Wednesday in Vancouver that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations were an infringement on charter rights and declared they have no force and effect.
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"This allows a patient and a doctor to control their own medicine," said Alex Newman, a co-owner of the Higher Limits marijuana smoking and vaping lounge in downtown Windsor. "If you find a strain you particularly like, if you have a particular way of taking it, this allows you to have individual control."
Newman said the ability to grow marijuana would help patients who have trouble affording marijuana from approved dispensaries.
"Growing your own medicine is far, far cheaper than paying market rates for it. [The ruling] just gives the patient and the doctor more control about how they want to take their medicine," Newman said.
But in the ruling, the judge also also suspended his declaration for six months to give the federal government time to come up with new rules.
The judge was careful to point out that the ruling does not change other laws that make it illegal for Canadians to use marijuana recreationally.
The judge also ordered that an earlier injunction remains in effect, allowing thousands of Canadians with prior authorization to use medical marijuana to continue to grow it at home.
The ruling applies to about 28,000 Canadians who had the proper licenses before the time of the injunction — like Newman.
Even though Newman had a licence to grow his own marijuana, he never took advantage of it. He said it was more efficient to buy it from a dispensary.
Doctors may still require licensed dispensaries
But this ruling might not allow every patient to grow their own cannabis, explained Ronan Levy, an Ontario lawyer and co-founder of Canadian Cannabis Clinic.
"My sense is that our doctors are still going to want people to register with licensed producers,' Levy told CBC News.
"Could you imagine going to your doctor and him prescribing an antibiotic and then [have] you go home and mix it yourself?" he said. "I don't think most doctors would be comfortable with that."
Levy also said doctors may be hesitant to prescribe cannabis if patients intend to grow it at home, because there is a risk of use that a doctor cannot control.
With files from Mike Laanela