Contributed by: Lothar
Canadian Legal FAQs
All of the following relate mostly to the Canadian legal system, unless otherwise noted. If you require specific American information, then I suggest you seek out the NORML web page as they have state-specific information. However, most western legal systems operate on similar principals, so the knowledge here is still useful for a grower with legal questions.
Can I be charged with....? The answer to that question, no matter what follows it, is: YES. Police rarely understand the laws they purport to enforce.
The important question is: Will if be convicted if I am charged with (Insert atrocity)?
What are the penalties for possession / growing?
Possession. Thanks to an enlightened amendment to the CDSA some time ago, you may possess up to 30 grams of MJ or one gram of hash and risk only a fine of up to $1000.00 and/or six months in jail. Jail is almost unheard. As far as first, second, and even third offences, you are looking at getting the charge diverted and then withdrawn, or at the worst - a fine.
Cultivation. Theoretically you face a maximum of 7 years in jail. Penalties will vary according to each jurisdiction and the brilliance (or not) of your lawyer.
Some general practices:
If its a small amount, 1- 12 plants (obviously for personal use) then you are likely to get diversion, possibly a fine, at most a suspended sentence. Jail is highly unlikely.
For more plants, 12 - 50 you are risking higher fines, possibly house arrest. In one case I saw a fellow plead guilty to having 32 plants and the Judge gave him 10 days house arrest.
In cases of 50 or more plants, the Crown begins to suspect cultivation for the purposes of trafficking. If they suspect any connection with organized crime / street gangs, then they will likely seek jail, and possibly forfeiture of assets or property. Jail is more likely in these scenarios although not absolute.
** Remember that the prosecutors and courts take into account the number of plants. Better to have 12 plants producing loads of weed each, than 75 in a sog / scrog each producing 25 grams. This may be offset by your lawyers submissions on the nature of the grow method, but keep in mind the general rule of the police and Federal Crown Attorneys: Each MJ plant is considered to be worth $1000.00 on the street. The best advice in these situations is to grow less plants, producing more.
What should I do if a bust occurs? What are my rights?
First of all, make sure they have a warrant if they show up and want to come in. If they dont, tell them to go away. If they do, you have a right to see it and make sure if it is valid.
If they have a warrant, they will be coming in, and you will not likely be able to determine the validity of the warrant on your doorstep. This will be something for your lawyer to review later.
Secondly, and I cant stress this enough: Be polite and cooperative! In a worst case scenario, if you are convicted or you are pleading out on a deal, your conduct at the scene will be read into evidence.
Ive seen sentences go through the roof because some fool acted like a complete asshole.
If I'm busted but I beat the charge, can I get my equipment back?
Yes. In a situation where your lawyer is successful in getting the warrant quashed, then whatever was seized must be returned to you. This doesn't include the weed of course, but you can get your lights, hydro setup, meters, etc returned. This only works when the warrant itself is defeated; winning your case on other grounds will not produce this result.
Unfortunately, I do not believe there is any such provision in America.
Can I be convicted for cultivation when just helping a friend harvest his grow?
What if you are caught in the basement, helping out during a bust? Depends on what you are doing. If you are harvesting, you could be charged with "production of substance" (cultivation) At least according to the Criminal Code, as "Production" in the CDSA is defined to include "cultivating, propagating or harvesting"
However, there is good news: In 1994 Supreme Court of Canada, in a case called R.v.Couture stated that cultivate "does not include the mere drying or curing of marijuana plants; nor does it include acts relating to the harvest of the plants such as drying or cutting of the plants."
The purpose of this was to differentiate between the cultivator and any helpers or people who otherwise did not participate in the actual ongoing cultivation process.
What is the story on electricity bills?
There is no siren that goes off if your electricity usage goes up by a reasonable amount. Whats reasonable? 2 1kw lights arent much of a difference.
A high electricity bill is not grounds for a warrant. Using electricity, even in gross amounts, is not illegal. If your bill goes up 500%, then it may be enough to begin an investigation, but by itself, it is not enough to establish on reasonable and probable grounds that a criminal offence is being committed. Assuming that you arent telling the whole neighborhood about the jungle in your basement, or venting stinky weed exhaust out the front door, then the police have a long way to go to get a warrant.
Can my house / Property be seized?
Certainly any property such as grow lights and hydro equipment can be seized.
The crown must make an application to the Judge that the interests of justice would best be served by you losing your house. The Judges that I know personally have rejected almost all of these requests. And in those cases, we are talking about a great deal more than six plants. The case law on this point is thin, however it tends to lean towards the idea that "the property has been specially altered for the furtherance of a large scale criminal operation involving illegal drug manufacture, where residence in such a property would appear to be secondary".
Putting Mylar on your closet door and hanging some lights does not qualify.
The operation of seizure is usually a joint venture between Revenue Canada and The Federal Crown's office. Rev Can takes a look at what property you have, and whether or not you can afford this property with your legit income. After crawling up your financial orifices with a microscope to determine you cannot, then the Feds can make an application to seize it.
Of course, if the bank mostly owns your house, you have little to worry about.
Any type of Biker affiliation or gang activity is a green light for the prosecution to go nuts. Be careful who you associate with.
The bottom line is, we're talking large-scale, criminal operations, usually where the house was only purchased for the purpose of growing weed or making speed or whatever.
Should I change the locks on my place without telling the landlord?
In certain provinces / states the applicable Landlord Tenant acts may prohibit this. It is certainly not a criminal matter, but it may well show up in other acts and statutes, such as the various edicts from the city and fire marshal on fire access , safety etc.
Whether or not your particular area specifically prohibits it is not the point. The reason that the landlord has a key, is for access in any kind of emergency which may include the fire department.
(*Don't mess with the fire department - they have more power to enter your house than cops).
Fist scenario: Landlord shows up, kicks the door in, installs new lock. Landlord sends you a bill for broken door and new lock.
Second scenario: Landlord shows up, calls emergency locksmith at $200.00 an hour, installs new lock and sends you the bill.
Either way, you are civilly liable for whatever happens if the landlord can't get in. The bad side to all of this is you have now pissed off the landlord, and this is reason to evict you (a violation of the rental contract).
If the lock not (been tampered with) and the landlord found your grow, at least you were on good terms and he may ignore or not even notice your little project. If the lock was tampered, you have caused him all this trouble, he'll probably just call the cops before you get home.