VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - Canada's plan to prohibit medical marijuana patients from growing their own medicine is unconstitutional, four citizens claim in a class action.
Neil Allard et al. sued Her Majesty the Queen in Federal Court, claiming that changes to Canada's "Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations" will unreasonably restrict "access to their medicine by way of a safe and continuous supply."
The changes, set to take effect on March 31, 2014, will limit marijuana production to licensed commercial producers. Patients today may grow their own or designate someone to grow it for them.
Of approximately 40,000 patients authorized to possess marijuana, 24,000 to 30,000 have "personal production licenses," according to the complaint.
Allard claims he's been medically retired since 1999 and suffers from depression and myalgic encephalomyelitis. He grows pot indoors and outdoors and is authorized to consume 20 grams a day.
Plaintiff Tanya Beemish says she's on a disability pension and suffers from type-1 diabetes and gastroparesis.
Plaintiff David Hebert, Beemish's common-law husband, is her designated grower. Both say they are "concerned about losing control over the production of her medicine in a secure and safe manner at a reasonable cost."
Plaintiff J.M. has been on disability since 1979 after a cliff diving accident left him wheelchair-bound. He produces built a wheelchair-accessible facility to grow organic marijuana and claims he can't afford to buy pot on the black market or from gray-market dispensaries.
Under the new scheme, patients will pay more for medical pot, which today costs from $1.80 to $5 a gram. The plaintiffs expect the price to rise to around $7.60 to $8.80 a gram. The plaintiffs say they produce their own pot for between $1 and $4 per gram. There are 28.4 grams in an ounce.
"All of them fear the loss of control over the safe continuous production of their own medicine at reasonable cost, including use of their developed specific effective strains," the complaint states.
They seek class certification and a permanent injunction or exemption preserving their right to produce their own marijuana under Canada's "Medical Marihuana Access Regulations."
They are represented by John W. Conroy, of Abbotsford, B.C.
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