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Canada's Medical Marijuana Users Win The Right To Grow Their Own

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 24/02/2016 Hilary Hanson
ATHENA IMAGE © NatanBolckmans via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

Medical marijuana patients in Canada can legally grow their own cannabis, the country's Federal Court ruled Wednesday.

Justice Michael Phelan struck down the medical marijuana regulations that went into effect in 2014, ruling them unconstitutional. The ruling is suspended for six months, during which time the government has to come up with new laws, the CBC reported.

Four British Columbia residents had challenged the regulations, which said patients could only get marijuana by purchasing it from licensed producers. (Just before the law took effect in April 2014, the court allowed people already authorized to possess medical marijuana to continue growing it at home until the constitutional challenge was settled.)

“His historic decision represents a nearly complete victory for patients using medical cannabis in Canada," Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer representing the four patients, told the Vancouver Sun.

The regulations made medical marijuana unaffordable, attorney John Conroy argued during the hearings last year, according to the Canadian Press. Low-income patients not covered by the exemption were forced to either illegally grow their own or purchase cheaper cannabis on the black market. 

Federal lawyers had countered that the regulations protected medical marijuana users by making sure the cannabis they bought met certain safety standards.

But Phelan disagreed.

“The access restrictions did not prove to reduce risk to health and safety or to improve access to marihuana -- the purported objectives of the regulation,” he wrote.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Canada, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to move toward legalization.

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