Marijuana ruling a win for patients, says retired Winnipeg police officer

Retired Winnipeg homicide detective Bill VanderGraaf says he is "elated" that medical marijuana users in Canada will be permitted to grow their own cannabis.

Federal court judge throws out ban on medical marijuana users growing their own pot

Bill VanderGraaf, who has a licence to use marijuana for medical purposes, advocates legalizing and regulating the drug. (CBC)

Retired Winnipeg homicide detective Bill VanderGraaf says he is "elated" that medical marijuana users in Canada will be allowed to grow their own cannabis.

VanderGraaf uses medical marijuana to cope with post-traumatic stress.

Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan on Tuesday struck down regulations that prevented Canadians from growing medical marijuana. He suspended his decision for six months to give the federal government time to create new regulations.

The previous Conservative government introduced the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations in 2013 and required patients to buy cannabis from licensed producers instead of growing their own.

VanderGraaf said the change made medical marijuana more expensive and more difficult to access.

'Ridiculous situation,' says retired cop

After the laws changed three years ago, medical marijuana patients started buying cannabis from drug dealers to avoid the high cost of buying from licensed producers, said VanderGraaf. Others skirted rules and continued to grow plants despite the illegality, he said.

"This has become a ridiculous situation," VanderGraaf said.

"We don't say one day they're not criminals and then the next day they are criminals."

For VanderGraaf, permission to grow marijuana, which he refers to as his medicine, in his house restores a right that had been taken away.

"I think it's a fundamental principle in the criminal justice system that a man's home is his castle," he said.

VanderGraaf does not believe allowing patients to grow their own pot will take a bite out of licensed growers' profits, even though it presents a cheaper alternative.

"It's labour-intensive," he said.

Marijuana legalization on the horizon

"I'm going to be very interested to see how the Liberals deal with the medical marijuana issue in relation to the whole legalization process," said VanderGraaf.

During the election campaign and after coming into power, the federal Liberals promised to legalize and regulate marijuana for all users. A task force led by former Toronto police chief Bill Blair is overseeing the plan.

VanderGraaf believes it could take the federal Liberals less than six months to come up with cannabis regulation.

"We have the alcohol template. We have the tobacco template," he said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?