The Canadian government is appealing a court ruling that lets medical pot patients continue growing their own weed for the time being.
The nation’s massive MMJ program is in the midst of a major transition. For many years it was a state-run monopoly system in which patients could buy a sickly product known as CanniMed or grow their own. Now the government wants patients to stop growing and buy all their pot from several approved commercial producers.
The change has met with substantial resistance, in part due to price increases and the loss of personal independence. Medical pot is guaranteed in Canada by court decree, though the federal government enforces it only under duress.
“I want to emphasize that marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada,” said Health Minister Rona Ambrose. “Health Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source for medical purposes.”
Earlier in March, the Federal Court granted patients an injunction so they can continue growing at home. It will be in effect while patients challenge the changes the government is making to the MMJ program.
On March 31 the government said it would appeal the injunction to the Federal Court of Appeal.
The medical marijuana program was established by Health Canada in 2001, and patients have been allowed to grow their own supplies since then. They could also buy CanniMed.
That weak, noxious, monopoly product was one of the reasons Canadian patients relied so heavily on home cultivation. It didn’t help relations between Health Canada and patients when CanniMed’s manufacturer got a new license so soon after the old program was terminated.
So far, the government has awarded cultivation licenses to 12 companies. Another 600 have applied.
Health Canada says letting so many patients grown their own pot poses too many risks, like fire and crime, and the program has been subject to serious abuse. But patients say the new system will mean higher prices and less selection. Certain illnesses can require particular strains of cannabis that commercial cultivators may not grow.