PENTICTON - A Summerland man has been sentenced in Penticton ourt to three months in jail for operating a marijuana grow operation.
Calvin P. LeBlanc, 55, was sentenced in Penticton Supreme Court today, Nov.15. He had been found guilty of production of a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and fraudulently consuming electricity at a trial held in May of this year.
Federal Crown prosecutor Ashleigh Baylis told court LeBlanc’s charges stemmed from a police search warrant executed on Jan. 28, 2014 on LeBlanc’s rented premises, where they found 685 marijuana plants and several grams of harvested bud. Police also found a hydro bypass in the attic. Baylis says it was estimated the grow-op could produce a crop worth between $94,000 and $207,000.
LeBlanc cooperated with police and provided a statement. He admitted the enterprise was a bad mistake, but was something he got into after a back injury limited his capacity to earn a living. He said a “friend of a friend” introduced him to the idea of establishing a grow-op.
Baylis’ noted the significant size of LeBlanc’s grow op which was capable of producing 30 lbs. of bud every three months. She said the level of planning and profit potential was high, pointing out LeBlanc’s illegal use of electricity and the fact his residence was owned by a third party as other aggravating factors, as was LeBlanc’s lack of a guilty plea.
Baylis asked Justin Austin Cullen to consider a one year jail term noting a recent court ruling knocked down a previous mandatory minimum three year jail term for such charges.
Defence lawyer Kelly Christiansen asked for a suspended sentence, arguing her client, who had a grade 10 education, had not had “a lot of luck” financially. He hadn’t understood the inherent risks of operating a grow-op and was genuinely remorseful for what he had done.
Christiansen said her client’s lack of a guilty plea had been hampered by what were, at the time, mandatory minimums of three years for his crimes. She noted the recent Charter ruling that deemed the minimums to be unconstitutional was an indicator society’s attitude, and the laws regarding growing of marijuana, were changing.
Justice Cullen, after reviewing several case law examples provided by Christiansen, agreed social attitudes were changing with respect to marijuana, compared to drugs like heroin and cocaine.
Noting LeBlanc’s lack of a criminal record up to now, Cullen said there was no reason to suspect LeBlanc would not return to his life as a law abiding citizen, agreeing with defence’s request for a 90 day intermittent jail sentence, to be served weekends, along with a probation order that will include an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, and a 10-year firearms prohibition.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.