A B.C. lawyer and marijuana rights advocate, John Conroy, is close to filing a lawsuit on behalf of patients who say Health Canada’s new marijuana rules infringes on their rights to access the medicine.
Conroy and his legal team expects to file a constitutional challenge within weeks, reports the Vancouver Sun. They’ve reviewed more than 3,000 statements from patients across Canada and will pick 15 of the best to act as representatives in court.
While Health Canada’s implemented the changes in June, Conroy says the preparation process took longer than expected.
But he believes there’s still enough time before April 2013 – when the transition period ends and the new rules take over completely. By April next year, patients will no longer be allowed to grow medical marijuana at home.
Conroy tells the Vancouver Sun that he hopes a court injunction can extend the deadline until a resolution is reached.
“Still, we’re going to be looking for injunctive relief so that after March 31 – when the new rules come into effect – the status quo is maintained until after the court ruling so there is no damage done to these people and they have a supply of medicine.”
Conroy says about 60-70% of approved marijuana patients are on fixed disability pensions and will be unable to afford their medicine under the new system. The rules require that all patients purchase marijuana from large-scale producers, with the average price estimated to be $7-8 per gram.
Conroy says the current expense for patients who grow at home ranges from $1-4 per gram. Currently, close to 80% of approved patients grow for themselves or have a person designated to grow for them.
“We’re not asking the government to spend money and support these people. We’re just asking they be allowed to keep doing what they have been allowed to do. We think they should at the very least grandfather-in the current personal production licences.”
So far, the cost of medical marijuana has not been covered by major insurance providers. However, some patients have received support from Veteran Affairs Canada.
If the constitutional challenge fails, Conroy says he will consider helping patients sue for the money they spent on renovations and cultivation equipment to grow under the old rules.