Legally licensed medical marijuana grow operations are supposed to shut down under federal regulations that are now being challenged in court.

Legally licensed medical marijuana grow operations are supposed to shut down under federal regulations that are now being challenged in court.

Court challenge begins against federal ban on medical marijuana home growing

Abbotsford lawyer argues new federal system forcing patients to buy only from commercial producers is unconstitutional

A constitutional challenge of Canada’s new medical marijuana laws is now being heard in a Vancouver courtroom.

Patients want the right to continue growing their own pot instead of being forced to buy only from large commercial producers licensed by the federal government.

Legal home growing was supposed to stop last April when new Health Canada regulations took effect, but a temporary injunction allowed existing licensees to continue until the case could be heard in court.

Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy is leading the challenge in Federal Court and expects the trial to last three weeks. He said a decision is unlikely to come down before summer or fall.

Conroy argues the new ban on personal production is unreasonable.

“It places people in a situation where they have to choose between their liberty on the one hand, or having to go to the black market or the grey market if they can’t afford the (licensed producer) prices, which many of them on disability pensions can’t.”

Federal government lawyers are arguing the new system provides safe, regulated marijuana while eliminating public risks from mould, electrical fires and crime that often came with home production.

– with files from Alex Butler / Abbotsford News