TORONTO — New federal regulations allowing designated medical marijuana producers to grow cannabis for two approved users of marijuana — up from one — are a “slap in the face,” advocates said Tuesday.
The changes, to be announced Wednesday, come nearly 16 months after a Federal Court judge struck down the one-to-one ratio as unconstitutional and unnecessarily restrictive.
Alison Myrden, who has been a vocal advocate for medical marijuana users, said the changes are an “outrage” and run contrary to the court’s decision.
“None of us will settle for this,” Ms. Myrden said. “This is so disingenuous of our government, because we are sick and dying people. We’ll have to go back to court again.”
The old regulations restricted designated producers to growing cannabis for no more than a single approved user of marijuana.
Federal Court Justice Barry Strayer ruled in January 2008, that the one-to-one restriction is “arbitrary,” not “rationally related to legitimate state interests” and violates the principles of fundamental justice.
Instead of amending its regulations to permit larger-scale medical producers, Health Canada appealed the decision.
The Federal Court of Appeal ruled against the government last fall without asking to hear from lawyers representing 18 medical users in eastern Ontario. The government then asked the Supreme Court of Canada to hear an appeal. The top court declined to do so, in a decision released on April 23.
It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in Canada use marijuana for medical reasons, according to evidence presented in a case in British Columbia.
However, less than 20% of the nearly 3,000 people approved to smoke marijuana for medical reasons access it from the government-approved supplier, because of complaints about the quality.