Canada’s Medical Marijuana Future at Stake in Vancouver Federal Court

CANNABIS CULTURE – Vancouver will be a bud battleground during a pivotal court case that could determine the future of Canada’s medical marijuana program and the fate of patients who choose to grow their own medicine.

Allard et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen – a constitutional challenge against Canada’s latest round of medical marijuana regulations – begins next Monday and is scheduled for 15 days at the Federal Court in Vancouver.

Home growing at risk

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government introduced new regulations governing the country’s med-pot program in June, 2013.

The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations included a ban on all home-growing of marijuana – effective April 1, 2014 – that would have forced patients to purchase their medicine from a small group of corporate Licensed Producers.

Just days before the looming April 1 deadline, cannabis super-lawyer John Conroy and the MMAR Coalition Against Repeal won a temporary injunction against the home-growing ban, allowing patients to continue cultivating until the case is decided.

Conroy says the new regulations will make medical marijuana prohibitively expensive for many patients, as it is much cheaper to grow cannabis than to purchase it at the inflated prices of the Licensed Producers. Those who couldn’t afford to pay would run the risk of arrest if they continued to garden at home. This would violate the Section 7 Charter Rights of patients, Conroy says, and “force patients to chose between their liberty and their health.”

The Canadian government and Health Canada argue that the “rapid expansion” of the medical marijuana program under the old Marihuana Medical Access Regulations

had significant unintended consequences on public health, safety and security. Under this Program, people growing marijuana in private homes added to health, safety and security risks. The high value of marijuana on the illicit market increases the risks of home invasion and diversion. And these production operations present fire and toxic mould hazards. These risks are not only felt by the home producers, but also by their neighbours and the community.

Conroy told Cannabis Culture that fire chiefs and the RCMP have made these claims, but “they haven’t been able to produce any statistics that indicate anybody who was harmed by toxic mould,” he said, or “any specific fires as between illicit or illegal operations or as of those that have been put together by certified electricians and those that haven’t.”

Listen to an interview with John Conroy about the Allard case from Pot TV:

Join the protest in Vancouver

Marijuana activists are expected to be out in force during the trial and have planned protests starting Monday, February 23.

Members of Vancouver’s pot community are invited to gather at the Federal Court (click here for map) with signs, megaphones, and their favourite anti-prohibition chants.

“We wish to maximize attention to this matter by lining the sidewalks with signs and volunteers,” Jason Wilcox of the MMAR Coalition Against Repeal wrote in an online notice. “Snacks and refreshments will be provided for volunteers. Medicine I assume will be plentiful as seems to be the case whenever the Coalition pulls a gathering.”

Trial Kick-off in Langley

The Coalition will hold a Trial Kick-off party on Saturday, February 21 from 6PM – Midnight at the Murrayville Hall (Click here for map) in Langley.

The event features live music, guest speakers, and a prize raffle. Ticket are $20 and proceeds go to support the Allard case. Visit the event Facebook page.

Watch for updates on the Allard case as they happen on the Cannabis Culture Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Jeremiah Vandermeer is editor of Cannabis Culture & Pot TV. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.