Pubdate: Thu, 12 May 2016
Source: Daily Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Sun Media
Author: Ron Grech
Page: 3


Robert Neron's legal troubles started five years ago when he asked the
Ontario Provincial Police in Kapuskasing to lay a charge against
Health Canada.

It signalled to police that Neron, a long-time user and advocate for
medical marijuana, was no longer licensed to possess or grow his own
cannabis at his Moonbeam residence.

On Tuesday, Neron, 50, pleaded guilty in the Ontario Superior Court of
Justice in Timmins to production of cannabis and two counts of
possession of cannabis resin and cannabis marijuana for the purpose of
trafficking. All three drug charges were laid against him during this
period when his licence to legally possess cannabis had lapsed.

Prior to the sentence being handed down, Neron told the court he felt
he had already paid a severe penalty having this matter hanging over
him since he was charged five years ago.

"Your honour, I think I can safely say that I have been serving it
pretty harshly and at a very high cost for the past five years - a
very high cost to my health primarily, and budget-wise a close
second," said Neron. "I think my time is already well served, your
honour. I don't think any more punishment needs to be inflicted ... I
am the only victim here."

The prosecution was seeking a 16-month conditional sentence comprised
of eight months of "strict house arrest" followed by eight months
subject to an evening curfew.

However, Judge Robert Riopelle opted for a considerably lighter

Taking his medical conditions into consideration, Riopelle said Neron
"presents a very sympathetic victim" and gave him a conditional
discharge - which means if he stays out of trouble for five-and-a-half
months, Neron won't have a criminal record stemming from any these

However, he will be required to pay a $600 victim fine surcharge and
is prohibited from owning any restricted weapons for the next 10 years.

The court heard Neron has Hodgkin's lymphoma and another medical
condition called cervical dystonia which causes painful, twisting
muscle contractions in the neck. For the most part of the last 16
years, Neron has been legally permitted to possess and grow medical
marijuana as treatment or pain relief from these conditions.

Mathieu Lambert-Belanger, the acting federal prosecutor in this case,
told the Timmins court that Neron attended the Ontario Provincial
Police station in Kapuskasing on March 4, 2011 and spoke to a sergeant
about laying a complaint against Health Canada.

"Mr. Neron complained that Health Canada was being unreasonable in
their delay of sending him his permit allowing him to legally possess
marijuana for medicinal purposes. In his complaint, Robert Neron
wanted Health Canada charged with criminal negligence for failing to
renew his card to legally possess medical marijuana."

Inquiries were made with Health Canada by police and they were advised
that Neron's application was under review.

"During this investigation, it was discovered that Robert Neron's
licence to possess and grow cannabis marijuana had expired in July
2010," said Lambert-Belanger. "Police were also made aware that Robert
Neron presently had a cannabis marijuana grow operation at his residence."

On March 8, 2011, Neron once again attended the Kapuskasing detachment
of the OPP to plead his case for police to lay charges against Health
Canada. At one point while speaking with officers, Neron admitted
having a "joint" or marijuana cigarette in his pocket.

"Robert Neron proceeded to remove the joint from his pocket. As a
result, the joint was seized by police and Mr. Neron was arrested for
simple possession of marijuana," Lambert-Belanger told the court.

The Kapuskasing OPP subsequently began an investigation into a report
that Neron had a now-unlicensed cannabis marijuana grow operation at
his residence in Moonbeam.

The OPP checked with Hydro One on the electricity consumption at
Neron's residence which "revealed a much higher than normal
electricity consumption," said Lambert-Belanger.

On March 11, police obtained and executed a search warrant for Neron's
residence in Moonbeam.

Police seized 29 grams of cannabis marijuana resin, 19 "mother
marijuana plants," 1,165 small cannabis marijuana plants at an early
germination stage, 6,217 grams of cannabis marijuana though the
prosecutor acknowledged the bulk of that weight was stems and leaves,
and not the actual buds that contain the higher concentration of THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol which is the primary ingredient in marijuana
that induces a "high").

"The Crown concedes police only seized between 70 and 100 grams of
cannabis marijuana buds," said Lambert-Belanger.

"It's well known Mr. Neron has been a strong activist for the medical
marijuana community for a number of years. He's had licences in the
past, and he now has a licence again. My understanding is there was
only a short lapse between his previous licence and the one he has
now. And that is when the search warrant was executed.

"Nonetheless, he was in possession of and was growing cannabis
marijuana illegally on March 11, 2011 and that's why we're here" in

Neron told the court, medical marijuana is "what keeps me alive and
pain-free and somewhat calm state of mind."

Neron spoke about the impact this case has had on his

"The five years this case has lasted has been a very difficult time in
my life," he told the court just prior to the judge handing down his
sentence. "I lost my precious genetics (plants) and had my grow
facility destroyed ... and forced to purchase my medicine from black
market dealers.

"The fact that I am now five years without proper medicine and still
asked to defend myself is truly beyond me."
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