Grow-op sting, lengthy court case ends with whopping $10 fine

By Tracy McLaughlin CNEWS

Indoor Marijuana Grow Located with Arrest
NEWMARKET — A huge undercover police sting that saw a medical pot-grower dragged through the courts for two years ended with a grand slam in court Thursday — a $10 fine.

“This is ludicrous,” an exasperated Clifford Dawson said outside court. “This cost the taxpayers millions and two years of my life. All for $10? Does this make any sense?”

Dawson, 34, of Innisfil, who walks with a cane and suffers from scoliosis, pleaded guilty to production of marijuana.

“I am satisfied with the joint submission by both counsel for a $10 fine,” said Judge Mary Vallee, who also took into consideration the length of time Dawson has been on bail since his arrest on Dec. 18, 2013.

Dawson had a licence to produce marijuana, which he used to make a topical ointment for pain, but he was only allowed to grow 50 plants at a time and was busted with 150 plants.

He explained the growing cycle has three stages from seedling to plant to flower, and he had about 50 plants in each batch.

“It’s how the herb is farmed,” he said. “I’m not a drug user — I don’t even smoke the stuff.”

Two years ago, 30 armed tactical officers woke Dawson in his home, put him face down and cuffed him while aiming guns at his head.

“They had assault rifles pointed at my pregnant wife,” Dawson said. “It was terrifying.”

Since then he’s spent thousands in legal fees.

His lawyer, Margaret Osadet, says the cost of the seven-week undercover operation, which included tactical and intelligence officers from OPP, Barrie and South Simcoe police, combined with two years in the courts, would be in the millions.

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