Pubdate: Tue, 23 May 2017
Source: Daily Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Ron Grech
Page: A3


Organizer cancelling event due to lack of sponsorship and declining

The organizer behind Northern Ontario's longest running hemp festival
is pulling the plug.

Robert Neron, a Moonbeam resident and long-time activist in support of
freer access to medical marijuana, made the announcement through a
posting on social media on Sunday.

He said unless someone else comes forward to take over managing the
event, the cancellation of Hempfest is likely permanent.

In his announcement, Neron also revealed his intention to "retire
completely from any activism" in the future.

"My health will no longer permit me to do so," he told The Daily Press
in an interview Sunday night. "As for Hempfest, lack of money from
sponsors killed the festival … I can no longer sustain myself, my
health, little less a not-for-profit festival."

The 19th-annual Hempfest was scheduled to be an eight-day event, held
in mid August in Moonbeam. In the past, the event brought in cover
bands, guest speakers and vendors of hemp products.

However, with no financial support from sponsors, "I can no longer
afford to pay for it out my own little pension," Neron said in his
posting on social media."So, Hempfest dies this year. Lack of up-front
money from sponsors is the cause, not the lack of interest by the
owner." With The Daily Press, Neron spoke of his declining health,
saying it has been aggravated by recent legal troubles which he said
have never been fully resolved.

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 20 years, Neron has been
legally permitted to possess and grow medical marijuana as treatment
or pain relief from these conditions.

Neron was arrested in March 2011 after he had allowed his licence to
possess and grow cannabis marijuana lapse. He pleaded guilty in May
2016 to production of cannabis but the court took into consideration
Neron's medicinal use of drug even though he wasn't properly licensed
at the time, and handed down a conditional discharge.

Neron was told at the sentencing the cultivation equipment seized by
police when he was arrested would be returned to him in "due time."

Neron told The Daily Press on Sunday, he is still waiting for the
return of that equipment.

"After being busted six years ago, I've just been going downhill
fast," he said. "Still no equipment returned after the Crown being
ordered to do so within 30 days. I was prescribed this medication to
save my life, now being deprived of it for so long. I'm just dying
slowly, painfully … Haven't had anything (medical marijuana) since

Neron feels at this point as if he has fallen through the

"Just another proof that Health Canada system has failed a 20-year
exemptee," he said.
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