UPDATE 1-Canada patients can grow their own medical marijuana -court
(Adds reaction from federal health minister, paragraphs 8-10)
By Julie Gordon
VANCOUVER Feb 24 (Reuters) - A federal court judge in Vancouver on Wednesday ruled that medical marijuana patients have the Constitutional right to grow their own cannabis, striking down a ban introduced by Canada's previous Conservative government.
The court suspended its decision for six months to give Ottawa time to respond.
A group of British Columbia residents took Canada to court in 2013, arguing a new law requiring medical marijuana patients to buy cannabis from licensed producers, instead of growing their own, was unconstitutional.
They said marijuana grown under the government system was too expensive and did not allow them to control the strains and dosages of their treatment.
The then Conservative government, which overhauled its medical marijuana program in 2013, argued that its mail order system was safer for both the patient and other Canadians, who could be hurt by unsafe home-grow operations.
In his decision, Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan said restrictions imposed by the Marihuana for Medical Purposes law were arbitrary.
"The access restrictions did not prove to reduce risk to health and safety or to improve access to marihuana - the purported objectives of the regulation," he wrote. Continued...