Toronto Man Taking ‘Catch 22’ of Growing Medical Marijuana to Court

Photo by Vit Wagner, Toronto StarPhoto by Vit Wagner, Toronto StarA Toronto man vowed to challenge a city bylaw that he said stops people from growing medical marijuana at home, on the same day a charge against him was dropped for creating a fire hazard by growing pot in his apartment.

Read the bylaw.

Although William Palmer was charged under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, his lawyer Paul Lewin said he plans to challenge the bylaw that he said bars marijuana growing in the city. Mr. Palmer lives in a Toronto Community Housing apartment near Dundas and Sherbourne Streets.

Mr. Lewin said that for people who need medical marijuana, the bylaw goes against equality rights set out in the Charter and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

“The bylaw doesn’t leave any room for medical marijuana growing at all,” Mr. Palmer said at Old City Hall court on Monday, shortly after the charge against him was dropped.

Mr. Palmer has a licence from Health Canada to grow medical marijuana to help him deal with symptoms caused by his HIV medication.

Court heard that the city withdrew the charge because it’s not a matter of justice to pursue the case. The city did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Even [Toronto community] housing will not give me the permission to grow, but yet the government of Canada says I can grow,” Mr. Palmer said.

Mr. Palmer, 48, said that between October, 2008, and last year, fire, city or community housing officials came into his apartment and took away his plants and shut off the electricity three times.

He stopped paying his rent when the electricity wasn’t turned back on after the third incident, leading to his eviction and moving to his dad’s place next door. He said he’s not growing pot there.

Using pot eases the severe nausea and depressed appetite that come with taking HIV medication, Mr. Palmer said. He’s seeking upward of $50,000 in compensation for damages to his plants.

“The right to grow marijuana for medicine is a well-established right, this isn’t anything cutting edge,” Mr. Lewin said. “The law in Ontario is crystal clear. No one should have to choose between their health and the law.”

Mr. Lewin said he filed the challenge months ago and had asked that it be heard on Tuesday, the day before Mr. Palmer’s fire hazard charge was dropped. He said it’s expected to go to the Superior Court in the spring.

Since Mr. Palmer is on the Ontario Disability Support Program, he can only afford to grow rather than buy, Mr. Lewin said.

“The real issue here, I think, isn’t so much the specific details of this case. It’s the fact that there are people, lots of people, in this catch 22.”

– Article from The Globe and Mail.