Medical marijuana user Robert Koteles was jubilant after a federal judge’s decision to strike down legislation that prevented patients growing their own cannabis.
“I am very excited for myself and mostly for all patients having the rights to make their own medicine,” he said. “This is amazing. This is a gigantic step forward in Canada law and I’m very proud of our court system,” said the 52-year-old, who has been splitting his time between Canada and the Philippines, where he has a wife and baby.
Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan found that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations violated charter rights by requiring patients to buy from licensed producers.
In his written decision released on Wednesday, the judge suspended the decision to strike down the law for six months.
That gives the government a window to create new medical marijuana regulations.
Those who have permission to grow their own marijuana under a previous injunction will be allowed to continue cultivating.
Koteles has been using medical marijuana for pain and sleep relief connected with his osteoarthritis. Allergic to most medications available for his symptoms, which also caused many side effects including heart palpitations and insomnia, he turned to medical marijuana.
“My hope is that other patients can grow for themselves as well. Now, we’re not going to be under the thumb of legislation that’s against our constitution and personal privacy and rights.
“They’ve over-legislated this and they have wrongfully classified this plant as dangerous and without medical benefit,” he added.
“Now, our courts have proven that the patients do believe it has a benefit and it’s safe for them to grow at home.”
The former Ponoka resident has already been licensed to grow medical marijuana. He was cultivating 44 plants in a sea container he moved to the lot of a home he was renting in Ponoka.
In 2013, that turned into a legal dispute with the town, when it ordered the sea container removed. Koteles filed a statement of claim last June seeking compensation for losses and medical distress.
His statement of claim says his Charter rights have been breached because the town’s order was to remove a federally authorized medical marijuana grow operation. Also, he alleged the town has compromised his health, safety and finances.
The Town of Ponoka denies all of the allegations. In its statement of defence, the town states the placement and use of the sea can as a greenhouse was in contravention of the municipality’s land use bylaw.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
That case is still winding its way through the court system.