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Fast says government should appeal homegrown medical pot ruling

Abbotsford MP says homegrown marijuana poses danger to the community.

Abbotsford MP Ed Fast is calling on the federal government to appeal a recent ruling from the Federal Court of Canada that struck down down regulations requiring licensed medical marijuana users to buy from Ottawa-approved growers and gave people the green light to continue growing at home.

The ruling is suspended for six months, but the four B.C. residents who launched the court challenge had their growing licences protected under an earlier interim order. Thousands of people in B.C. and across Canada received licences to either grow pot themselves or designate someone else to do it, before the Conservative government attempted to restrict production to large commercial growers who sent it by mail.

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intent on legalizing recreational marijuana use, Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer for the four, says the latest ruling should “once and for all end the stigmatization and criminalization” for medical users and their providers.

“And in addition, all pending criminal cases against medical cannabis producers, patients, growers and dispensaries should be immediately terminated,” Tousaw told CTV Wednesday.

The court challenge was brought by four different people, including 39-year-old Abbotsford resident Shawn Davey, who suffered a brain injury in a motor vehicle accident and receives a federal disability pension. He held licences to grow for himself and as a designated grower for others, authorizing him to produce 122 plants indoors and store 5,490 grams at the site of production. Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy’s firm represented the plaintiffs in the case.

In a statement issued late last week, Abbotsford Conservative MP Ed Fast said he was “deeply disappointed” in the decision, in which Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan ruled that preventing people from growing marijuana for medical purposes violates section seven of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees “the right to life, liberty and security of the person.”

Fast said the rules introduced by his Conservative government aimed to “balance legitimate access to medical marijuana against our goal of keeping our communities safe and of preventing marijuana from falling into the hands of youth.” He said illegal grow-ops posed a danger to the community, due both to fire and safety aspects issues, and because of what Fast said was their frequent association with organized crime.

“Abbotsford has been a hotbed of marijuana grow-ops, and my residents will no doubt be quite angry that the court has essentially dismissed their concerns,” he said. “This ruling potentially sets a precedent for the manufacture within private homes of other dangerous drugs. This is not a road we should be travelling down.”

– with files from Tyler Olsen