A rare case involving a woman who produced too much medicinal marijuana got even stranger Tuesday when she was sentenced to house arrest -- but chose jail instead.
Judge Joseph Nadel ruled 42- year-old Hoa Vu could serve a 12-month sentence at home, after siding with defence lawyer Jeffrey Root who argued the case didn't merit jail time.
But after hearing through a Vietnamese interpreter what conditions she'd have to follow, Vu opted for 90 days in jail -- the sentence federal prosecutor Darren Anger wanted.
Vu pleaded guilty to production of marijuana in a St. Catharines court in July, after police discovered she was growing more medicinal marijuana in her Niagara Falls home than she was licensed by Health Canada to produce.
Although she was legally allowed to grow 25 plants as a caregiver for other people, police found 119 plants in various states of maturation.
Root argued Vu was growing the additional plants to ensure continuous production. But Anger said the production was a "breach of trust" between licensed growers and Health Canada.
Nadel said it was one of the rare cases in which a conditional sentence is appropriate for marijuana production.
He said there was no evidence she was selling the marijuana commercially. "She was giving this stuff away to sick people, particularly one older sick man," Nadel said.
He also took into consideration Vu didn't have a prior criminal record and pleaded guilty.
Besides 12 months of house arrest, he sentenced Vu to one year of probation. There was a break in the court proceeding so a Vietnamese interpreter could go over the fine print with Vu, who then returned to court requesting the jail sentence.
She'll serve the 90 days on weekends and forfeit all marijuana- growing equipment.
Root said later Vu thought the terms were too onerous. "She determined she'd rather do the weekends. It would be more manageable for her life."
By KARENA WALTER
September 30, 2009