MIRAMICHI, NEW BRUNSWICK – The woman who was caught growing what she described as a “compassionate marijuana grow op” in her home in Bay du Vin will be going to jail in spite of telling the court she was attempting to help people who were sick and not to make money.
Eva Marie Duplessie, 45, flew back to Miramichi from her home in Toronto to hear her sentence on Monday, and found out she wouldn’t be flying home soon.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Jean-Paul Ouellette sentenced her to 12 months in jail for the operation, which was uncovered in 2007.
During the investigation, officers uncovered 213 plants growing in her home, along with highly elaborate equipment including lighting and timers. In total 24 pounds of harvested marijuana bud was seized from the home.
Standing to hear the decision, Duplessie did not cry but grew stone-faced, staring straight ahead.
It was significantly less time than the Crown asked for at the sentence hearing a month ago. While the Crown prosecutor submitted the request for a harsher punishment of 18 months to two years, Ouellette was satisfied a year was appropriate for a first time offender who was far from a commercial grower.
Nor did he agree to the house arrest sentence as pursued by defense lawyer Geri Mahoney, who said this drug production was different from anything the Miramichi was used to seeing. She submitted it did not resemble the highly profitable tactics of those caught in Operation Jackpot in 2005. Duplessie testified at the sentence hearing she took a loss on production because she wanted to help those who were ill.
But in his decision Ouellette said it was not his job to assess the ethics of her crime.
“This court does not decide the rightfulness of the offense.”
He noted the large amounts of marijuana seized from her home and her attitude toward the drug as part of the reason for the jail time.
“This was clearly to feed her own addiction, but she felt morally justified,” said Ouellette. “The offender does not intend to seek help.”
As an aggravating factor he listed her presence in the drug culture and online network involved in aims to legalize marijuana.
“This was not one of impulse or a momentary lapse of judgment,” he said.
Ouellette said his decision also arose from the exposure of marijuana production to the teenagers living in the house. Her daughter lived with her in the home when she was producing marijuana and though she said her daughter never saw it, she admitted she knew what was going on. As well, Duplessie had recently taken over the care of another teenage girl who was the daughter of a family friend.
After she is released, Duplessie will serve a two-year supervised probation. During this time she is to undergo assessment and treatment for drug abuse as well as a mental health assessment. She will not be allowed to use or be in possession of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Duplessie will also pay a $100 victim surcharge and will be prohibited from the use or ownership of a firearm for 10 years.
The items seized from her home found to be products relating to the growing operation will be destroyed.
As the court cleared out Duplessie spoke briefly to her lawyer and asked to if she could call her daughter as she was taken back into the holding cell by a court sheriff.
– Article from the Miramichi Leaderon January 7, 2009.