76-year-old gets mandatory six-month jail term for growing 150 small pot plants

A North Thompson grandfather started a grow-op in Little Fort to augment his small pension

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

A North Thompson grandfather who started a grow-op to augment his small pension has been given a mandatory six-month term in prison.

Donald Clarkson, 76, pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops to production of marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking after police raided an outbuilding on his property in August 2013.

“My pension wasn’t big enough,” Clarkson told Justice Dev Dley on Monday, March 30. “That’s the only reason I did it.”

Crown and defence lawyers made a joint submission for the six-month jail term — the minimum sentence after the Conservative government toughened the country’s drug laws.

Crown prosecutor Anthony Varesi said Clarkson rented the property in Little Fort in the North Thompson Valley for more than 10 years. He was assisted by a female pensioner who earlier pleaded guilty to a lesser role in helping him harvest.

Clarkson came under suspicion after police were alerted to the smell coming from the property. They found 150 small plants. At harvest, the value was estimated at $60,000.

Varesi said the grow-op appeared to be well organized.

Defence lawyer Sheldon Tate said Clarkson lived a modest life, noting there was no evidence he was enjoying the spoils of earlier crops. The trucker who retired more than 10 years ago has a dated and unrelated criminal record.

“His motive for committing this crime was to augment his income,” Dley said. “As limited as it might have been, it can only be categorized as a crime of greed and for no other reason.”

In addition to the six-month jail term, Clarkson is prohibited from possessing firearms for 10 years and must also submit a sample of his DNA to the national registry.


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