Challenging Manitoba’s ban on home-grown cannabis

| David Brown

One Manitoba man says he will soon file a constitutional challenge against the Manitoba Government’s ban on home-grown non-medical cannabis. 

Jesse Lavoie says he wants to bring attention to Manitoba’s home-grow ban and challenge the law in court, which he argues has restricted his ability to save money by growing his own rather than buying from stores. 

Lavoie, a former medical cannabis patient who currently works for Canopy Growth, has started a GoFundMe campaign where he is asking others to donate to his cause, and says he has been working with several law firms in Manitoba to build the case. He is careful to emphasize that his efforts to challenge the law are not connected to his position with Canopy, and that he is doing the work on his own behalf. 

“About three months ago I started really researching this,” says Lavoie, “looking at the Quebec case and studying the law here in Manitoba, and then about a month ago I secured the services of a local law firm who will be helping with the case. The Gofundme will pay for the legal fees and any unused funds will be donated equally among three charities.”

Although federal regulations allow up to four cannabis plants to be grown in the home for non-medical use, provinces and territories are allowed to limit that number. The only two provinces to have limited that number are Quebec and Manitoba, which both placed an outright ban on cannabis home-grows. The federal government has in the past said while provinces can limit the total number of grows, they do not believe this allows provinces to limit that number to zero.

Quebec’s own ban was successfully challenged in 2019, the province is appealing the ruling. Manitoba’s own ban has not yet been challenged. In the successful challenge from last year, the judge in the case noted that Quebec would likely have the right to further limit home production and possession, but not outright ban it, because this would constitute an infringement by the province on federal criminal jurisdiction.

Lavoie says more he will be updating people on the progress of the case on his website. Although he knows the process of a court challenge could take a while, he says he’s prepared for the process. 

“To all Manitobans, I’m here for the long game. I’m not going away. I require some support, but I will see this through to the end, and I can’t wait for us to all put some seeds in the ground together soon.”