A chance interaction on a rural Cowichan Valley road in December 2016 led to the discovery of an illegal marijuana grow operation and charges against a 28-year-old Vancouver Island man.
Called out to Clements Road in Sahtlam on Dec. 17, 2016 to deal with a pickup truck abandoned in a ditch, a North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP officer got to talking with Dennis Joseph Dicesare.
That interaction, court documents say, “permitted the police officer to detect the smell of vegetative marijuana or fresh marijuana,” on Dicesare.
The two men parted ways and while investigating the ditched pickup, the officer had cause to walk up the driveway from which Dicesare had driven away.
At that point, the Mountie noticed a strong smell of fresh marijuana. Further investigation ultimately resulted in the Feb. 23, 2018 execution of a search warrant, the revelation of a three-room grow operation in the carriage house where Dicesare lived, and Dicesare being arrested at gunpoint by officers, according to court documents.
Dicesare was given an absolute discharge during his sentencing on Dec. 17, 2018 following a guilty plea to the charge of unlawfully possessing a controlled substance in an amount not exceeding three kilograms for the purposes of trafficking. Charges of unlawfully producing a controlled substance were stayed.
In his reasons for sentence, Judge J.P MacCarthy cited Dicesare’s limited involvement with the growing operation and his belief that the production licence posted on the wall of the facility made it a lawful medicinal cannabis venture.
However, compliance with the licensing requirements was not being fulfilled, according to court documents, which rendered the grow-op illegal.
Judge MacCarthy said Dicesare had been away from his North Island home and was living in the carriage house while he worked in the Cowichan Valley. He helped with the plants in exchange for a break in the rent.
“The fact that Mr. Dicesare is before the court without any criminal record and has been a hardworking and contributing member of society are certainly mitigating factors that are at play,” MacCarthy said. “He is also an individual who can be considered youthful in nature, with a bright future in front of him.”
MacCarthy further said “I am satisfied on the various authorities that have been presented to me and on the present circumstances of this particular offender that an absolute discharge is warranted. In my mind, he is fully rehabilitated through his involvement in this criminal justice process. I am very confident that he will not be back before these courts on charges similar to this or, for that matter, any other criminal charges.”
An absolute discharge nullifies and criminal record Dicesare otherwise would have received.
Dicesare also made a $1,000 donation to the Cowichan Valley Basket Society as part of his sentencing.