Forfeiture penalty levelled against property

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A 54-year-old Shrewsbury man who admitted to growing marijuana for his own medicinal use was ordered to pay $20,000, representing partial equity of his property, during sentencing in Chatham's Superior Court Monday.

John David Hartford also received a conditional sentence of three months house arrest, followed by a nine-month curfew to be in his home from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Court heard Hartford used marijuana to treat chronic back pain caused by arthritis in degenerative discs that would otherwise keep him awake at night, making it difficult to work properly.

Chatham-Kent police raided his Adelaide Street property June 3, 2010 and found various marijuana plants growing in the yard and processed marijuana stored in a freezer.

Hartford and his wife, Linda Joan Anhorn, were both charged with unlawful production of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.

Charges against Anhorn were withdrawn by a federal Crown attorney during Monday's trial.

Hartford pled guilty to the production charge.

The Crown withdrew the trafficking offence against him.

Justice Thomas Carey accepted a joint submission to sentence the accused to include the forfeiture order under Section 19 and 19.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

It was only the second time in Chatham-Kent police history the order was made in local court.

The first case involved the forfeiture of an entire property in Bothwell during an unrelated drug offences case in May 2012.

Hartford was also handed a mandatory 10-year ban on owning weapons.

The judge waived the victim surcharge fine and did not make a DNA order.

“Given the nature of the offence, given your background, it's unlikely you will repeat the offence,” said Carey.

Outside court, Hartford told The Chatham Daily News his dependency on marijuana started several years earlier when he experienced severe back pain.

“I couldn't walk for six months. I was on crutches for eight months after that,” said Hartford.

He was placed on long-term disability yet chose to go back to work, after coping with his chronic pain by smoking marijuana so he “could get a good night's sleep,” he said.

Hartford said he was laid off work in January, after 18 years employment as a machine builder at a company in Blenheim.

He admitted to The Daily News to keeping what he was doing at home “top secret.”

“It's hard to function without sleep. I couldn't perform at work,” he said.

Hartford said he didn't know about seeking a medical marijuana certification.

Now he doubts with his record he would qualify for a licence to grow the weed.

Hartford shrugged when asked how he copes with his daily pain.

“I can't sleep at night ... is the biggest thing,” he said.

The forfeiture order forced him to cash in an RRSP.

“I got hit pretty hard,” he said.

He has employment insurance coming in until the end of the year.

After that he's not sure what he and his wife will live on.

 

vicki.gough@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/DailyNewsVG

 

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