News

B.C. Supreme Court rules in favour of medical marijuana

MATT KIELTYKA, 24 HOURS

Compassion clubs and other medical marijuana distributors should have restrictions on them lifted, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled on Monday.

To the delight of a packed courtroom in Vancouver, Justice Marvyn Koenigsberg said federal regulations that limit people's access to medicinal cannabis are "constitutionally invalid" and gave the government a year to amend the rules.

The current rules under the federal medical marijuana program limit a supplier from providing marijuana to more than one patient and restrict growers from sharing a common space.

Koenigsberg made the ruling during the trial of Vancouver Island resident Mathew Beren.

In 2004, RCMP raided a grow-op Beren ran in Sooke and charged him with trafficking.

Koenigsberg found Beren guilty on two drug-related charges Monday but granted him an absolute discharge because he grew marijuana exclusively for the Vancouver Island Compassion Society.

The discharge means Beren may continue to grow marijuana for the VICS, a non-profit that distributes marijuana to 850 patients.

"In my view, it would be contrary to public interest for Mr. Beren to have criminal record," Koenigsberg told the courtroom. "If ever there was a case where an absolute discharge is appropriate, it's this one."

Outside the courthouse, Beren told media he was overjoyed by the decision.

"We're talking 14 years to life for what? For helping people?" he said. "I want to make sure people that need medical marijuana can get it without the dangers of the street. It's an awesome day."