[JURIST] A judge for the Vancouver Federal Court [official website] ruled [order, PDF] Wednesday that medical marijuana patients have a constitutional right to grow their own cannabis, striking down a ban introduced by Canada's previous Conservative government. The case came to court [Reuters report] when a group of British Columbia residents sued the Canadian government in 2013 arguing that the disputed law restricting medical marijuana patients from purchasing cannabis from anyone other than licensed producers was unconstitutional. The plaintiffs invoked the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to not be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person "except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice." Judge Michael Phelan agreed with the plaintiffs that "the access restrictions have not been proven to be in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice" and that they infringed their constitutional rights. Specifically, Phelan pointed out that the government restrictions imposed by the Marihuana for Medical Purposes (MMPR) law were arbitrary, and that they failed to achieve their stated objectives—i.e. reducing health and safety risks and improving access to medical marijuana. In making his ruling, Phelan also directed attention to the finding that access to medical marijuana had little if anything to do with recreational or life-style use, but that it is more directly related to the needs of Canadians to address illnesses, severe pain and life threatening illnesses. Phelan ruled that the decision invalidating the medical marijuana restrictions will not become effective for six months, thereby giving the government ample time to respond with new and more feasible regulations.
In recent years there has been a movement to decriminalize marijuana both domestically and abroad, which has resulted in at least 20 US states allowing various forms of medical marijuana and four states decriminalizing [CNN report] marijuana altogether. Earlier this week the Utah Senate voted to advance a bill that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in various forms such as vapor or edible form. In December Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos [Britannica Profile] signed a decree [JURIST report] fully legalizing medical marijuana in the country. Santos said the new regulations, which make it legal to grow, process, import and export marijuana for medical and scientific use, would put Colombia "at the forefront in the fight against disease." Last November New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two bills [JURIST report] in order to expedite the distribution of medical marijuana to citizens with critical health conditions. Earlier that month New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed [JURIST report] a bill into law that would allow for the administering of edible medical marijuana to sick and disabled children on school grounds without triggering the arrests of parents or educators. Also in November the Mexico Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] ruled that four members of the nonprofit Sociedad Mexicana de Autoconsumo Responsable y Tolerante would be allowed to grow and smoke marijuana. In June last year the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a law restricting the use of medical marijuana was unconstitutional [JURIST report].