Medical marijuana patients can grow ‘limited amount’ of cannabis at home under new laws

Change comes after Federal Court said old rules were unconstitutional

By Andrew Foote, CBC News

Jane Philpott, minister of health, speaks in Ottawa in June. Health Canada will allow medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis at home with the approval of their doctor and Health Canada.

Jane Philpott, minister of health, speaks in Ottawa in June. Health Canada will allow medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis at home with the approval of their doctor and Health Canada. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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Canadian medical marijuana patients can grow their own cannabis under new regulations that come into effect later this month, Health Canada announced Thursday.

Patients approved for medical marijuana can register with Health Canada to grow a “limited” amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes.

They can also designate someone else to grow it for them if they’re not healthy enough to grow their own or get it from one of 34 Health Canada-approved producers.

Health Canada officials said in a technical briefing Thursday afternoon this “limited amount” will be linked to the daily amount of cannabis a patient is prescribed.

For example, someone prescribed a gram a day could grow two plants outdoors or five plants indoors to be able to supply themselves, Health Canada said, since plants grown outdoors yield more supply than indoor plants.

The new rules come into effect on Aug. 24.

New rules meet court deadline

A Federal Court judge earlier this year struck down the former Conservative government’s 2013 law requiring medical marijuana patients to get their cannabis from licensed producers instead of growing their own.

Judge Michael Phelan said in his Feb. 24 decision those rules that “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” restricted patient liberties under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

He gave the federal government six months to come up with new rules.

Phelan also ruled that around 28,000 patients who had been allowed to keep growing their own medical marijuana under a 2014 injunction could continue until these new rules are in place.

Health Canada said Thursday the injunction won’t be lifted until it is confident it can handle these thousands of patients coming into the new regulatory system.

The ruling came after a court challenge from four B.C. residents who argued the law was unconstitutional and took away affordable access to medicine.

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