|English: The Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (www.wamm.org) presents Victoria, the nation's first legal medical marijuana plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Conservative government has lost its latest attempt to prevent medical marijuana users from growing pot at home, with the Federal Court of Appeal upholding an injunction that exempted patients from a massive overhaul of the system.New rules were introduced earlier this year that prohibited home growing and instead shifted production to commercial operations, but a group of patients is challenging that regime in a case expected to be heard in the new year.
A Federal Court judge issued an injunction in the spring that allowed patients who were authorized to grow and possess marijuana under the old system to continue to do so until their case is resolved.
The government appealed, but the Appeal Court released a unanimous decision Monday upholding the injunction.
"It's very significant," Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer for the four plaintiffs in the case, said in an interview.
"The big fear was that if the government's appeal was successful, then all of these people who have been protected by the injunction could very well turn into criminals overnight."
Full trial set to begin in FebruaryThe previous medical marijuana regime, which was introduced in 2001, allowed patients to either grow their own pot, designate someone to grow it for them, or purchase it directly from Health Canada.
New regulations took effect this last spring that no longer allowed personal production and instead established a system of federally licensed commercial producers.
There are now 15 such operations selling medical cannabis.
The plaintiffs filed a constitutional challenge arguing the updated regulations violate their right to access important medicine, because commercial prices are considerably more expensive under the new system.
They also complained the commercial market wouldn't give them as much control over which strains of the drug they use.
The Federal Court trial is set to begin in February.