City of Surrey faces human rights complaint over growth of medical marijuana


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Published: October 8, 2010



City of Surrey faces human rights complaint over growth of medical marijuana

A woman has filed a human rights complaint against the City of Surrey claiming its refusal to allow her to grow her own medical marijuana is discrimination against the disabled.


The woman, who is maintaining her anonymity, claims to have multiple serious health issues, but a release sent out jointly by her lawyer and a medical marijuana advocacy group did not provide details of her illness.


The woman had attempted to grow cannabis in the home of a relative, but she claims the relative was refused the necessary permits needed to modify his home’s electrical wiring in order to legally grow medical marijuana under a Health Canada license.


The city allegedly cited concerns about heat and mould.


The woman’s relative allegedly responded to the refusal by providing mechanical engineering reports making clear that neither mould nor heat were concerns.


"He wanted to do it right," said Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer with Conroy & Company and counsel to the patient. "Instead of hiding and hoping to avoid detection, he tried to pull permits."


The woman claims the city began stalling the process after making "false" claims regarding safety by then taking issue with zoning.


The woman’s relative was allegedly told by the city he was not allowed to let her grow marijuana because the home was not zoned for horticultural use. The woman also alleges the city backtracked after initially giving the relative the go-ahead to grow pot outdoors.


The woman alleges the city eventually stopped responding to her relative’s inquiries about inconsistencies in the city’s process for receiving horticultural zoning.


The City of Surrey was not immediately available to respond to the woman’s allegations.


"This kind of discrimination should bother anyone concerned with basic human rights," said Jacob Hunter, policy director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation, a group advocating for reform of the medical and non-medical cannabis laws and a licensed medical cannabis consumer. "Here you have a very ill woman trying to grow a few plants for medical use, under license, and trying to do it the right way."


Hunter said that instead of applauding her desire to follow the necessary legal steps, the city delayed her for months and frustrated her access to medicine. He said the woman’s experience is the type of thing that will drive people underground to grow medical cannabis.