Medical marijuana grower ready to expand after ruling
January 12, 2008
VICTORIA - A company in Duncan on Vancouver Island is gearing up to supply nearly 300 customers with medical marijuana in the wake of a federal court ruling striking down a key restriction on sales of the drug.
Island Harvest applauded the decision to declare unconstitutional a regulation that had prevented growers from selling marijuana to more than one patient.
Federal Court Judge Barry Strayer said the Health Canada policy violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"We were so happy," said Eric Nash, who owns Island Harvest with wife Wendy Little. "Of course, we're not holding our breath, because we know the government will appeal."
Health Canada has said it's reviewing the court decision, but declined further comment.
Under Canada's medical marijuana regulations, people can apply to be approved as a legal user. Once approved, they can grow it themselves. They can buy it from the federal government, which has contracted a company to grow it in an abandoned mine shaft in northern Manitoba. Or, under the regulation declared unconstitutional, they could designate a person to grow it for them, but that person is limited to growing for that one person only.
Under that regulation, Island Harvest could only sell to two patients - one each for owners Nash and Little.
Nash called the ruling a victory for patients and businesses alike.
"It allows us to supply more patients, to help more people, and basically, as a business, actually have a potential to make some income," he said. "The impact on us is quite profound, because we've had hundreds of patients request our certified organic product over the last couple of years.
"Of course, now we have to scramble to get product available," he said. "It's a big difference supplying hundreds of people than it is two people."
A meeting has been scheduled with federal prosecutors and a B.C. Supreme Court judge next week to discuss the case.