Pubdate: Thu, 19 May 2016
Source: Northern Times, The (CN ON)
Page: 16
Copyright: 2016 The Northern Times
Author: Ron Grech


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 sentence.

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 charges.

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 

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 court.

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 life.

"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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