A B.C. Supreme Court Justice has sentenced a rural Quesnel man to nine months in jail for growing more marijuana than allowed under licence for medicinal purposes.
Jamie Ray Laird, 52, was issued the term Jan. 8 by Justice Jeanne Watchuk in Vancouver after he pleaded guilty to production of a controlled substance. He must also serve six months probation.
Responding to a complaint from neighbours, RCMP executed a search warrant in March 2011 on the Laird family farm on Red Bluff Road, 10 km. outside Quesnel, and found 502 marijuana plants in two outbuildings.
The farm is owned by the Laird's parents and Jamie Laird is the middle child of three sons. His father and one brother had licences to obtain medical marijuana, but Watchuk found that accounted for at best one-quarter of the marijuana grown.
Watchuk also calculated that a single crop would yield between 31 and 94 pounds, worth $62,000 to $263,200 on the pound level and $100,400 to $451,800 on the ounce level.
Crown prosecution had argued for 15 to 18 months in jail and emphasized a need for deterrence due to the large number for grow operations in the Cariboo area. Defence counsel submitted it should be a conditional sentence served at home, noting it was a first offence.
In reaching the verdict, Watchuk in part made reference to a six month jail term issued in November by provincial court judge Darrell O'Byrne to Shawn Brent Topley for growing 113 plants in a home in a Prince George neighbourhood.
Crown had suggested a conditional sentence but O'Byrne opted for something stronger, Watchuk noted, due to the threats of violence and neigbhouring property being devalued that grow-ops can pose in residential areas.
Even in rural areas, grow-ops pose similar hazards, said Watchuk, and added firefighting services may be some distance away if a blaze breaks out.