Ontario Judge Fines Cannabis Grower $5 Instead of Mandatory Minimum Six Month Sentence

An Ontario man with an expired license to grow medical cannabis was fined $5 after police removed 99 plants from the disabled man’s home, charging him with possession, intent to traffic and production.

Justice Peter West refused to hand Geoffrey Prior a mandatory six-month sentence, opting instead to give him a token financial penalty and a two years of probation.

Prior has been looking for an apology from police for nearly two years, with no success, after they took an estimated $101,000 worth of plants from Prior, who said he uses cannabis as the only means he has to get out of bed due to injuries following a collision with an impaired driver in 2004.

Since his arrest, the Crown admitted that Prior had no intent to traffic cannabis.

“Since 2004, Mr. Prior has suffered from chronic, debilitating and incapacitating pain,” West wrote in his decision. “The Crown accepts there was no commercial benefit sought by Mr. Prior in growing marijuana. The production was solely for medical purposes.”

After obtaining an MMAR license from Health Canada in 2012, Prior misplaced a request from the government to renew his authorization and had his grow permit lapse, but said he was financially unable to buy from the government’s licensed producer program.

“To impose a sentence of jail would be completely disproportionate to the gravity of the conduct engaged in by Mr. Prior and his motivation and reasons for producing the marijuana,” West wrote. “I am suspending the passing of sentence and placing Mr. Prior on probation for a period of two years.”