New federal pot law means little to medical marijuana users following recent injunction

New federal pot law means little to medical marijuana users following recent injunction

Bruised but not bowed, the federal government is returning to court, hoping to overturn an injunction that broadsided the key goal of its new medical marijuana program — eradicating neighbourhood grow operations.Home growers were supposed to be chopping down their plants and packing up their hydroponic gear today with the arrival of a new med-pot scheme based on a regulated, corporate pharmaceutical-style supply system — or face a visit from the cops.Instead, it is business as usual for tens of thousands of gardeners, thanks to an injunction issued in Vancouver by Federal Court Judge Michael Manson.He told Ottawa on March 21: April Fools!Manson shredded the government’s arguments, and was sympathetic to the representative plaintiff patients who argued, among other points, that the new plan economically penalized them — forcing them to forego inexpensive homegrown for expensive store-bought — and that they were being denied individualized strains developed specifically for their various conditions.Still, the federal Conservatives appear to be gluttons for punishment.Health Canada issued a brief news release Monday in the face of mounting confusion over what would happen today given the injunction.Ottawa says it is appealing the injunction, but still needs to go through the legal formalities and a date needs to be set.So, today a new medical marijuana law comes into effect, new companies that have obtained a licence from Ottawa will begin selling marijuana to patients via a secure delivery system, and home growers, who were supposed to be out of luck, will still be watering their plants.Thousands of protected neighbourhood grow-operations will continue to exist, and the injunction will shield them for a year or more until the court rules on constitutionality questions — frustrating Ottawa’s intention of ending the so-called “scourge.”After a court ruling in 2001 about access to relief for those with debilitating illnesses, the federal government created an exemption to the criminal prohibition and established the medical marijuana program with a single designated supplier.That scheme burgeoned from fewer than 100 patients to roughly 40,000, and morphed in response to court rulings so that patients were allowed to grow their own cannabis or appoint a gardener.Its critics multiplied exponentially too, raising alarms over safety concerns involving everything from unhealthy mould, electricity theft and harvest rip-offs to drug trafficking rings.The Conservatives hoped to replace that system with something closer to a regulated medical market.Manson threw a spanner into its timetable.His ruling permits anyone who holds a valid cultivation licence to continue growing until a decision is rendered on the constitutionality of the new scheme that restricts production to regulated commercial growers.He concluded patients or their designated grower should not have to destroy their plants until the complicated legal questions about patients’ rights are resolved.That means the status quo that so offends Ottawa, municipalities, community groups, along with police and fire departments across the country will continue.There are other repercussions.Judges in B.C. Supreme Court were faced with requests for similar injunctions forcing Department of Justice lawyers to ask for judicial understanding last week because discussions were occurring “at the highest levels.”Source:

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