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    Thread: Medical pot user admits exporting grass

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      Default Medical pot user admits exporting grass

      http://www.guelphmercury.com/NASApp/...=1050421501473

      SCOTT TRACEY

      WELLINGTON (Feb 23, 2006)

      A medical marijuana crusader busted for mailing pot to fellow users in the United States and Britain pleaded guilty in a Guelph court yesterday to exporting marijuana.

      Marco Renda, 46, also pleaded guilty to possession of hashish oil and will be sentenced in May. His lawyer is expected to lobby for a conditional sentence to be served in the community under house arrest.

      "I think the judge understands everything I did was to help other patients," Renda, of the Dundalk area, said outside court. "It wasn't about just trafficking or organized crime or anything like that."

      Renda is authorized by Health Canada to possess and grow marijuana, which he uses to alleviate the symptoms of Hepatitis C.

      Court heard Renda operates a website -- www.treatingyourself.com -- through which he offered marijuana and seeds for sale to other medical users. Following his release last April on $10,000 bail, Renda freely admitted to the Mercury he'd sent the packages.

      "If someone presents medical evidence that marijuana helps them, I will do what I can to help them," he said at the time.

      Last March 18, Renda went to the postal outlet inside the Shoppers Drug Mart in Fergus and dropped off 24 manila envelopes destined for various addresses across the U.S., court heard.

      Canadian Border Security officers intercepted two of the packages and opened them because of concern a crime was being committed.

      The two envelopes were each found to contain marijuana.

      On March 31, border officers opened the remaining envelopes and found them to contain a total of 79 grams of bud marijuana and dozens of seeds. Federal prosecutor James Peluch said the marijuana had an estimated value of $1,580.

      In the interim, Renda had attended the same Fergus postal outlet on March 23 and mailed two packages destined for American recipients. These were also seized by border officers and found to contain 80 grams of bud marijuana with an estimated value of $1,600 and four grams of powdered marijuana valued at $40, Peluch told Justice Gary Hearn.

      On March 30, Renda mailed out 17 packages to addresses in the U.S. and United Kingdom. These packages were later found to contain a total of 632 grams of bud marijuana and one vial of hashish oil with a total alleged value of $12,680, court heard.

      Peluch said on April 13, about 3:17 p.m., members of the OPP Drug Enforcement Section executed a search warrant at Renda's Southgate Township home. During the search, police seized eight vials of hashish oil, valued at $3,200, from the living room.

      Defence counsel Leora Shemesh of Toronto said Renda admits "the elements of the offences" to which he pleaded guilty, but disputes the value of the drugs attached by the Crown.

      Shemesh clarified her client acknowledges the amount of drugs seized by police, "but the valuation is exceedingly high."

      She noted the price for which Renda offered controlled substances through his website was much lower than the value suggested by the prosecutor, and told Hearn she will provide more information about this on the sentencing date.

      Hearn said this is "certainly a case for a presentencing report" and also ordered an assessment of whether Renda would be qualified for a conditional sentence.

      Outside court, Renda said he likely could have challenged the possession of hash oil charge on the basis his Health Canada exemption covers products derived from marijuana plant, "but I really just wanted to get on with my life." Renda recently launched Treating Yourself magazine, billed as "a journal for patients by patients."

      "I haven't stopped helping people; I've just changed the way I'm helping people," he said, stressing he has not mailed out marijuana since his arrest last April.

      Renda will be sentenced May 10.

      stracey@guelphmercury.com
      Last edited by pistils; 27th February 2006 at 04:54 PM.

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