As It Happens

Federal court strikes down ban on growing medical marijuana at home

Today, medical marijuana patients won the right to grow medical marijuana in their own homes after a Federal Court judge struck down Ottawa's ban on home growing, a decision by the Harper government.
A Federal Court judge has struck down federal regulations restricting the rights of medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis and given the Liberal government six months to come up with new rules. (CBC)

Today, a Federal Court judge in Vancouver struck down federal restrictions on medical marijuana users growing their own cannabis at home, a ban put in place by the previous federal government.

You can't criminalize patients for producing their own medicine.- Kirk Tousaw, lawyer

Kirk Tousaw represents four growers in British Columbia who argued that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations violated their Charter rights.

As Tousaw explains to As it Happens host Carol Off, the ruling will make it easier for medical marijuana users to grow pot at home.

"I think that any Canadian that grows cannabis for medical purposes has a very good defence in court if they're charged with offences arising out of that conduct," says Tousaw.

As part of his decision, the judge gave Ottawa six months to fix the law. Tousaw hopes the federal government will act quickly so that no "future patients are prosecuted for this conduct."

Lawyer Kirk Tousaw called Wednesday's ruling a victory for his clients. (Meera Bains/CBC)

At one time, medical marijuana users could grow the product themselves. But under the Harper government, restrictions were put in place that required users to buy cannabis from licensed providers.

The Conservative government had argued that growing marijuana in a residence was a public safety issue due to mold, risk of fire and the risk of possible criminal activity.

According to Tousaw, the judge said "medical cannabis can be grown safely, cheaply, effectively, with no risk to anyone … as long as it's done properly and in accordance with municipal bylaws."

Further details on the ruling, including the full judge's decision, can be found at cbc.ca/news.

A dried cannibis plant is trimmed at a medical marijuana facility (CBC)

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