A Federal Court judge has struck down federal regulations restricting the rights of medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis.
Judge Michael Phelan ruled Wednesday in Vancouver that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations have no force and effect, but suspended the declaration for six months so that the government can come up with new rules.
The judge also ordered that the injunction that has allowed thousands of Canadians with an authorization to use medical marijuana to grow marijuana will remain in effect.
The constitutional challenge was launched by Nanaimo, B.C., resident Neil Allard and three other British Columbia residents who argued that legislation introduced by the previous Conservative government violated their charter rights.
Phelan heard the case between February and May 2015 in Vancouver.
The Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations were introduced in 2013 and required patients to buy cannabis from licensed producers instead of growing their own.
During the hearings, federal government lawyers argued that the regulations ensured patients have a supply of safe medical marijuana while protecting the public from the potential ills of grow-operations in patients’ homes.
The lead counsel for the plaintiffs, John Conroy, told court that the legislation has robbed patients of affordable access to medicine. Some people were left with no choice but to break the law, he argued, either by continuing to grow their own or by purchasing on the black market.
Previously, those who launched the challenge promised to take their fight to the Federal Court of Appeal if today’s decision was not in their favour.
The federal Liberal government has committed to regulating and legalizing recreational marijuana but has yet to introduce any legislation.