Conditional sentence for growing pot in Maple Ridge

Shelley Raets got a 15 month conditional sentence for growing marijuana as a pain killer for her sick husband. - The News/Files
Shelley Raets got a 15 month conditional sentence for growing marijuana as a pain killer for her sick husband.
— image credit: The News/Files

A Maple Ridge woman who grew marijuana as medicine for her sick husband will not be going to prison.

Provincial court judge Shehni Dossa instead imposed a 15-month conditional sentence on Shelley Raets, which will allow her to serve time in the community.

“This was an elaborate growop in a number of rooms,” Dossa said before handing Raets the sentence. “You didn’t go about it the right way to get the appropriate exemptions from the government.”

Raets, 54, and her husband, Timothy Fury, were charged with production of a controlled substance, drug trafficking and theft of hydro in September, three months after Ridge Meadows RCMP raided a grow operation at their home.

Police were alerted to the growop, in the 24900-block of 116th Avenue, by B.C. Hydro.

After executing a search warrant at the property, police found 219 pot plants in a detached garage in three room. A fourth room contained clones or plant cuttings.

The growop had a carbon dioxide generator, seven fans, an air conditioning system and venting in the rooms.

The growop was being powered via a hydro bypass.

Raets, who is a registered nurse, pleaded guilty to the charge of producing a controlled substance in December and has repaid B.C. Hydro for the $8,334 in electricity she stole.

Charges against her husband were stayed.

“This wasn’t a profit motivated situation,” said her lawyer, Henry Sarava.

“It has to with the health concerns of Mr. Fury, who has significant health problems.”

Fury has had lung cancer and suffers from a genetic condition called hemochromatosis, which leads to a build of too much iron in his body. His kidneys are also compromised.

His doctor has told him he is eligible to receive medical marijuana under Health Canada guidelines.

The couple, however, failed to apply for the Health Canada permit.

“She decided foolishly to grow marijuana as a pain killer,” said Sarava.

Proponents for legalization, however, say Raets’ situation is all too common.

“The Health Canada process is very difficult to get onto,” said Dana Larsen, a director with Taggs Medical Cannabis Dispensary, which opened last year in Maple Ridge.

“It’s a very bureaucratic and restrictive system and a lot of people feel they have no choice but to grow their own medicine at home. They have to chose between that and suffering.”

Larsen, a B.C. NDP leadership candidate, would like to see Canadian province run the medical marijuana program. He adds it would spare people like Raets from being saddle with criminal record.

“I believe that British Columbia could license and regulate medical marijuana production, both the growing and dispensing of it. It would be a great benefit to the people of our province.”

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