Medical marijuana patients in Canada can breathe a sigh of relief. The federal government has announced it will not appeal the decision of the Allard case - in which Federal Court Justice Michael Phelan ruled that patients should have the right to grow medical marijuana at home. Today (Mar. 24) was the last day for the federal government to appeal the ruling.
"We will not be appealing the court's decision," Health Minister Jane Philpott told reporters. "We will respect the decision of the federal court and as such we are now in a situation where we have responsibility to address the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations [MMPR] and they will be amended accordingly in order to address the concerns of the court."
When Canada legalized medical marijuana in 2001, Health Canada originally allowed patients to grow their medicine at home. But in 2013, the federal government under Stephen Harper tried to ban home cultivation in favor of a mail-order system in which patients would buy marijuana from licensed producers. Patients argued the new rules infringed on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Justice Phelan agreed on Feb. 25, 2016, when he gave the government six months to revise the laws and allow home growing.
Who will be allowed to grow?
Not all patients can start planting marijuana right away.
"Until such time as the amendments are put in place," Philpott added, "the [old law] will remain in effect. If people have an injunction that allows them to grow for medical purposes, those with an injunction will continue to be able to use that. Otherwise the licensed producers are the only organizations allowed to produce medical marijuana under these regulations."
So the decision not to appeal is a huge victory for patients across the country. But many won't be able to celebrate until the new rules are introduced. Meanwhile advocates such as Kirk Tousaw - who also represented the plaintiffs in the case against the government - hope that Health Canada will go further and legalize "gray market" dispensaries when revising the nation's medical marijuana laws.
Following the announcement from Philpott, Tousaw tweeted:
In Feb. 2016, Tousaw told Civilized that the Allard ruling could open the door to Canadians growing marijuana for recreational use at home when Trudeau legalizes it. So today's decision could be a huge win for patients, dispensaries and recreational users.