Langley man suing feds over pot laws

Three B.C. men who have medicinal marijuana licences say the federal government has violated their rights by changing the laws allowing them to possess and grow pot.

Kevin Garber, a Langley resident, says he needs marijuana to treat his severe epilepsy and arthritis and has held a licence to grow and possess pot since 2009.

In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, he says changes to the laws that will require him to purchase his pot from a licensed company will have a harmful effect on him.

Garber says his licence allows him to possess 1,800 grams of cannabis and his daily dosage, approved by his doctor, is 60 grams per day.

He is also allowed to cultivate 292 cannabis plants indoors and to store 13,140 grams of cannabis, he says.

But under the new law going into effect March 31, he could be required to destroy 15,000 grams of marijuana he would otherwise have used to meet his medical needs, he says.

Garber claims that none of the licensed producers under the new regime have the genetic variants he requires and the pricing far exceeds his ability to afford sufficient quantities of the drug for his medicinal requirements.

“[The] plaintiff experiences emotional and psychological distress as a result of his awareness that on March 31, 2014 he will be forced to choose between his health and liberty and will be forced to destroy all of the cannabis he has stored as of that date,” says his lawsuit.

“The plaintiff also believes that if his licensing is revoked his quality of life and health will suffer. Indeed, his life may be at risk from severe seizures or seizure-related injuries.

The second man, Timothy Sproule of Abbotsford, says he is disabled as a result of degenerative disc disease that’s exacerbated by multiple car accidents.

His license allows him to possess 1,080 grams of pot and his daily dosage is 42 grams. He is also allowed to produce 176 cannabis plants indoors and to store 7,920 grams of cannabis, he says.

The new law could require him to destroy 9,000 grams of pot that would otherwise be used as medicine for himself, he says.

The third man, Philip Newmarch, says he is disabled and suffers from a variety of conditions including severe arthritis and spinal-cord disease.

He is allowed to possess 5,010 grams of cannabis and his daily dosage is 167 grams. He is allowed to produce 813 cannabis plants and to store 36,585 grams of the drug.

On March 31, he could be required to destroy 40,000 grams of the drug, he says.

The three men are seeking a court declaration that the new law violates their rights and a court order that they be allowed to continue to possess their licences.

A Health Canada spokesman referred questions to the federal justice department, but a phone message left there seeking comment went unanswered.

Canada’s laws have allowed qualified patients to hold medicinal marijuana licences since 2001.

The new law establishing a commercial system for production and distribution of dried marijuana to qualified patients came into effect in July 2012.

Changes removing the right of qualified patients to produce cannabis for personal medicinal consumption go into effect April 1.

They also disallow possession and provision of cannabis in any form other than dried pot and impose limits on the quantity of dried pot that can be purchased at any one time from a licensed producer, according to the lawsuit.

– Keith Spencer is a Province reporter.

For more from the Vancouver Province, click HERE.

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