Canadians protesting province's homegrown Cannabis ban hope for court win

Canadians protesting province's homegrown Cannabis ban hope for court win

Judge reserves decision in court case launched by cannabis advocacy group.

A group protesting Manitoba's ban against growing cannabis in a home is hoping for a win in court.

TobaGrown, a cannabis advocacy organization, took the province to court for the ban in May 2022. Closing arguments were heard Friday, but the judge reserved a decision until a later date.

About 30 to 40 people rallied outside the Manitoba Legislative building Friday morning before the 10 a.m. Manitoba Court of King's Bench hearing.

"We're here to send the government a message to show how many people want this ban lifted," said Jesse Lavoie, who founded TobaGrown.

"We're prepared, we're ready, and we're not gonna back down."

Lavoie said the group is calling for the province to lift the ban and instead adhere to the federal government's rules surrounding the substance, which went into effect on Oct. 17, 2018, when cannabis use became legalized.

Federal legislation says Canadians can grow up to four cannabis plants at home. But provincial rules prohibit the growth of cannabis in a home completely.

Manitobans can be fined $2,542 for not following the ban.

"The federal government made it legal … and the [provincial] government took the rules they didn't like and made them illegal again," said Lavoie, adding that instating a fine "re-criminalizes" the plant.

While federal law does not say provinces can ban homegrowing altogether, it does say provinces are within their rights to create "additional rules for growing cannabis at home, such as lowering the number of plants per residence."

It's not the first time the issue has been raised in a provincial court.

In September 2019, the Quebec Superior Court struck down that province's homegrown cannabis ban. The court ruled the ban was unconstitutional because it infringed on the federal government's jurisdiction over criminal matters.

"We're hoping for a win, but we are ready to appeal if we lose," Lavoie said.

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Region: Canada Manitoba