Skip to content

Conditional sentences for pot growers

In two unrelated cases, young men who were running what police called "sophisticated" marijuana grow operations received conditional sentences in Sechelt provincial court last week.

In two unrelated cases, young men who were running what police called "sophisticated" marijuana grow operations received conditional sentences in Sechelt provincial court last week.

One grow-op in Egmont was uncovered in November 2002 when someone broke into the rented house, trashed the living quarters upstairs, broke into the locked basement where the pot was growing and stole the mature crop. In what Judge Dan Moon described as an example of a "grow-rip," the pot burglars left threatening notes, destroyed almost everything in the house and then left the front door open and burglar alarm ringing, which alerted neighbours to call the police.

Although the largest pot plants appeared to have been stolen, the house still contained 477 plants at different stages of growth and 3,500 grams of dry marijuana. A police drug expert estimated the remaining plants would have a value of $200,000 to $300,000 at maturity. The growing equipment left in the basement had a value of about $12,000.

A clandestine Hydro bypass used to power the lights, fans and pumps was "tantamount to hooking up a toaster to Niagara Falls, in terms of the dangers involved," according to Crown prosecutor Don Fairweather.

The tenant, 22-year-old Robert Doerksen, pleaded guilty to production of a controlled substance on March 16. Doerksen said he did not set up the grow-op, but had been care-taking it for another grower for about six weeks. Doerksen had come to Egmont to get away from undesirable friends in Maple Ridge and to serve a conditional sentence for an earlier break and enter. He was still on that conditional sentence during part of the time he was care-taking the large grow-op.

Moon sentenced Doerksen to a 15-month conditional sentence. Until Sept. 15 he must remain in his mother's home 24 hours a day except for employment, education or meetings with his conditional sentence supervisor. He must also pay $1,200 restitution to B.C. Hydro.

Moon told Doerksen that the only reason he was not going to jail was that he pleaded guilty.

In an unrelated grow operation, Patrick Michael Moran was arrested in September 2001. Police, tipped off by Moran's landlord, raided his rented home and seized 59 marijuana plants, 34 grams of dried bud, hydroponic equipment and firearms. On March 15, Moran pleaded guilty to production of marijuana.

Fairweather said although the number of plants was not very large, this grow show was a pure hydroponic operation for the purpose of commercial sale.

"What was impressive, from a grower's point of view, was the density of bud on each plant," said Fairweather.

An RCMP drug expert estimated that the crop at maturity would yield more than 2,000 grams of dried bud, with a value of about $13,000 if sold by the pound.

Moran's lawyer said Moran was a heavy marijuana smoker who was growing the bud for his own consumption. He has now turned his life around, become an "exemplary citizen," and is working hard to establish a legitimate business, said his lawyer.

Moon ordered a 12-month conditional sentence. During the first six months, Moran must obey a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. He must also perform 180 hours of community service work.

Moran's firearms were stored in a safe, legal manner, but the judge prohibited him from owning firearms or explosives for 10 years. His guns have been transferred to the ownership of his former firearms instructor.