Medical marijuana lawsuit dropped

A former Ponoka resident has dropped his legal battle with the town over a medical marijuana operation.

A former Ponoka resident has dropped his legal battle with the town over a medical marijuana operation.

Robert Koteles was seeking compensation for loss and medical distress after the town ordered in 2013 the removal of a sea container that he was using to grow medical marijuana from the driveway of a local home.

Koteles, who had a licence to produce medical marijuana for his own use, also alleged his Charter rights were breached by the town’s decision.

The town denied all of the allegations and says in its statement of claim the location and use of the sea container for medical marijuana violated the Land Use Bylaw.

Koteles said on Monday he decided to drop his claim after his lawyer advised him the legal bill could run in the tens of thousands. If he lost, he could also have been ordered to pay the town’s legal costs.

“I can’t afford to go forward for any more justice,” he said. “It’s never been about the money. It’s been about my right to grow and about other people’s demands for me to leave just because I’m growing a plant for my own health. I stood up for that.”

Koteles said his lawyer and the town’s counsel agreed on the withdrawal of the claim. Also, complicating the issue for him from a legal standpoint was that he no longer lives on the property where the sea container had been located.

Meanwhile, Koteles, who uses marijuana for relief from severe osteoarthritis, is awaiting new regulations on medical marijuana production from the federal government.

In February, Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan found that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations Act violated charter rights by requiring patients to buy from licensed producers.

In a written decision, 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.

Koteles is awaiting the regulations to begin growing marijuana again. He was licensed to grow 44 plants, which he juices to provide pain relief and improved sleep.

John Conroy, the Abbotsford, B.C. lawyer, who took on the federal government on the marijuana issue plans to be back in court next month to ensure the previous ruling extends to all patients approved for medical marijuana.