Medical marijuana patients in Canada are free to grow their own plants after a Federal Court judge ruled the current laws forbidding that are unconstitutional.
Under former prime minister Stephen Harper, the Conservative government banned cannabis patients from growing their own supply, forcing them to purchase weed from licensed producers. Previously, patients were permitted to grow under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) program.
The restrictions were challenged by four British Columbia residents, who claimed they were a violation of Charter rights. On Wednesday, Judge Michael Phelan sided with the plaintiffs in a Vancouver courtroom. He has suspended his decision for six months to give the Liberal government time to create new legislation. In the meantime, Canadians with licenses to produce marijuana under the MMAR can continue to do so.
Elmer, Ontario patient Kyle Morrison, 36, who suffers from arthritis and herniated discs stemming from a workplace injury, told VICE he's relieved to hear the news. Morrison has had an MMAR license for the last five years allowing him to be in possession of 15 plants. He wants to continue to grow his own pot.
"I [raise] my own poultry… I hunt. I basically don't buy meat from a grocery store and I don't want to smoke grocery store cannabis," he said.
Morrison, who also suffers from mental health issues, said he wanted his children to be free to grow medical marijuana should they require it in the future.
Longtime pot activist and patient Tracy Curley told VICE the news was "really, really good" but that she suspects the Crown prosecutor will appeal the decision.
Curley was speaking by phone from Ottawa, where she attended a Senate meeting about marijuana legalization.
That panel, which included former Toronto police chief and Liberal MP Bill Blair, the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and experts on substance abuse, left Curley "heartbroken" because it made no mention of patients, she said.
The conversation revolved around having strict regulations for legalization, taxation, the black market, and "saving the children," she said. But there was no commitment to end the arrests of medical cannabis users or talk of making marijuana more accessible and affordable for patients.
"The way we've gotten to this point through court case after court case is by patients fighting for this and it literally felt like we had just been forgotten."
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.