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Medical Marijuana Users will be able to Grow their own Cannabis

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Changing Legislation on Medical Marijuana

This past February, Justice Michael Phelan of the Federal Court, struck down the former Conservative government’s 2013 law that required medical marijuana patients to buy their marijuana from a licensed producer rather than growing their own.  Justice Phelan ruled in Vancouver that marijuana for medical purposes regulations infringe rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Justice Phelan said that the “rules limited a patient to a single government-approved contractor and eliminated the ability to grow one’s own marijuana or choose one’s own supplier” restricts a patient’s liberties.

The Judge made it clear that this ruling does not change other laws or make it legal for Canadians without a prescription to use marijuana recreationally.  After this ruling, Parliament was given six-months to re-write the legislation to conform with this ruling.  Justice Phelan also ruled that 28,000 patients that were allowed to keep growing their medical marijuana under a 2014 injunction could continue growing until the new legislation comes in force.  Health Canada said that the injunction will remain in place until they are confident that the government can handle thousands of new patients entering the system.

The New Legislation

On August 11, 2016, new legislation was drafted that will come into force August 24th, 2016, allowing medical marijuana patients to grow a limited amount of cannabis at home or have it grown for them.  Patients that are approved by a physician to use marijuana may submit an application to Health Canada along with an original medical document and the location that the marijuana will be grown.

Further, if a patient is not healthy enough or chooses not to grow their own marijuana, they will be entitled to have a third party grown their marijuana.  In order to be a third party grower, the individual must pass a background check and not have been convicted of a drug offence in the past ten years.  A third party will not be legally allowed to grow for more than two people.

If a medical marijuana user does not want to grow their own cannabis or have a third party grow it for them, they still have the option of purchasing their marijuana from one of thirty-four Health Canada approved producers.  Under the current laws, this is the only source available.

How much can you grow?

Once the legislation is changed to reflect the new laws, an individual that for example, is prescribed one gram per day, could legally grow two plants outdoors or five plants indoors.  Health Canada states that the discrepancy is because outdoor plants grow much larger and yield more marijuana.

Jacqueline Bogden, assistant deputy minister for cannabis legalization and regulation, stated that “Health Canada is confident that these new regulations provide reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes and address the issues identified by the Federal Court.”  Health Canada further commented that they are opposed to illegal dispensaries, which continue to operate despite recent police raids in Toronto.

Do you have Questions?

If you have questions regarding to government’s new legislation or have been charged with a drug related offence, trust the experts at Smordin Law.  Our experienced team can advise you on all of your criminal matters and inquiries.

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Mandatory Minimum Sentences

New Supreme Court Ruling Means Good News for Those With Drug Charges

In a ruling that came out today, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences violated Canadians’ rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Previously, those who had drug-related offences on their criminal record and were charged with a further drug-related offence faced the possibility of a mandatory one year jail term if convicted. The Supreme Court ruled this as a violation of section 12 of the Charter, which safeguards Canadians against cruel and unusual punishment.

The ruling began with the case of Joseph Ryan Lloyd. Lloyd was an addict from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, one of Canada’s poorest neighbourhoods. In 2013, police caught Lloyd with a heroin, crack cocaine, and crystal methamphetamine on his person, the total amount of which was less than 10 grams. Lloyd’s case led to a series of cases debating whether mandatory minimums drug offences have a place in our justice system.

Mandatory Minimum

The original aim of mandatory minimums was presumably deterrence, but the Supreme Court found that this approach was so wide that it allowed for both prosecution of high-level drug traffickers, and of addicts who may have drugs in their possession because they are planning to consume said drugs later on. The Supreme Court recognized that the context of these offences is markedly different, and that the conduct of addicts does not carry the same amount of blameworthiness as the conduct of traffickers.

mandatory minimumThe Supreme Court advised that one of two solutions could be used to resolve this discrepancy in our laws. The first would be to narrow the provisions regarding mandatory minimum sentences, so that they do not apply to individuals who are not traffickers. The second solution proposed would be to allow judges the necessary discretion to avoid mandatory minimums in cases where they are unwarranted, or would be unfair.

It will be interesting to see how Parliament implements this new ruling, but suffice it to say, the way drug-related offences will be treated is likely to change in the near future.




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