A Saskatchewan man who said he is a heavy user of marijuana, and was caught with nearly half a kilogram of weed in his truck, has been found not guilty of a trafficking-related crime on the "personal use" defence.
Devon Douglas Lavallee was charged Aug. 29, 2013, with drug possession for the purpose of trafficking.
In a decision released Monday by provincial court Judge Felicia Daunt, Lavallee was instead found guilty of simple possession — an offence that typically results in a lighter sentence. The sentence wasn't dealt with in Daunt's decision.
'He says he smokes a lot of pot.' - Devon Douglas Lavallee says he's not a trafficker, according to judge
A year ago, Lavallee was driving on Highway 3 to his home in Weldon, Sask., about 60 kilometres southeast of Prince Albert, when he was pulled over for erratic driving.
The man was extremely "stoned", according to Daunt's decision.
Daunt had to decide if Lavallee's marijuana was for his own use, as he testified, or if he intended to sell it.
The Crown says Lavallee was caught with "a pound" of pot in his truck — about 450 grams.
The accused had purchased the marijuana for $1,600.
An RCMP officer with experience in drug trafficking cases testified at the trial that the nearly half-kilogram cache was simply too much for a recreational user.
"[The officer] says this would amount to a 443-day supply for the 'typical' user, who smokes one gram a day," Daunt wrote in her decision. "A 'heavy' user would consume two grams a day."
But Lavallee testified he is not a "typical user" of marijuana, Daunt noted.
"He says he has been smoking between five and 13 grams per day for 13 years," she said, in part to alleviate chronic back pain.
3-month supply within 'usability' range
Lavallee also told the court that he would go through a quarter pound (113 grams) of marijuana in about two weeks.
"Although Mr. Lavallee is prone to exaggeration, I accept that ... he smokes five or more grams per day of marijuana... ."
Daunt considered the RCMP officer's observation that marijuana loses its potency after six months to a year, and determined that a three-month supply is "well within the range of usability".
Daunt also weighed the fact that many items commonly discovered in a drug trafficker's home, including weigh scales and a cellphone, were not found in a search of Lavallee's place.
"The absence of packaging material suitable for distribution in smaller quantities troubles me the most," Daunt wrote.
Ultimately, Daunt said she had to consider whether the Crown had proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt. While she said it seemed unusual for someone to go through so much marijuana, it was a possibility.
"He says he smokes a lot of pot," Daunt wrote. "As far as I know, there is no physical or medical reason a person would be unable to consume more than two grams of marijuana per day."