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Judge asked to send a message with jail time for marijuana grower

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 | 4:57 pm

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By Joe Fries

Citing the “corrupting effect of marijuana on society,” a Crown prosecutor told a judge today that he should send a convicted pot grower to jail.

Cristin Peel was speaking at the sentencing hearing for Lonnie Craiggs, who was found guilty in B.C. Supreme Court last month of three offences related to the grow operation at a Belgo Road home in East Kelowna. Cops took down the 492-plant show in November 2005.

The Crown lawyer reminded B.C. Supreme Court Justice Geoff Barrow that the grow-op was an ongoing commercial enterprise that presented a safety hazard to the community. She noted that an expert testified at trial that the plantation could be expected to produce an annual return of between $900,000 and $1.4 million.

While Peel noted there has been a “great diversity” of sentences for convicted marijuana growers, she said an 18-month jail sentence in Craiggs’ case would send a strong message of denunciation and deterrence.

Defence counsel Marty Johnson disagreed and suggested his client be allowed to serve out his punishment in the community under a conditional sentence of house arrest.

The 53-year-old Craiggs, he said, may have been the only individual charged in relation to the offence, “but it would appear the person who set him up for a total fall was at least partly responsible.”

Johnson was referring to Joann Owens, the woman who owned the home and had been in a stormy relationship with Craiggs. Johnson suggested it was Owens who alerted police to the grow-op, although that wasn’t proven in court.

“She walks away from this without consequence,” Johnson continued, and told the judge that “is a problem you must address” with Craiggs’ sentence.

The defence lawyer went on to say that his client, who has no criminal record, has since moved out of Kelowna and refocused his energies on his cleaning supply business and charitable fundraising work.

Johnson said he’s handled five grow-op cases in the past eight months, four of which resulted in conditional sentences, while the fifth ended with jail time only because the accused lost his home.

Justice Barrow reserved his decision until Friday morning.

Owens and Craiggs are contesting ownership of the house in a civil lawsuit, which had been slated to go to trial next week. But the scheduled dates have been cancelled pending the outcome of the criminal matter.

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One Response to “Judge asked to send a message with jail time for marijuana grower”

  1. Dave says:
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    The only “corrupting effect” of marijuana is that clowns like Cristin Peel of Doak Shirreff LLP is getting paid for human suffering. Crown agency is being abused in Canada and a newspaper or journalist with some spine should look into the effects. No one believes this propaganda about pot anymore.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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