It was “greed and the lure of ‘easy money'” that led a man who lived part time on a boat in Florida to launch an illegal online business selling cannabis products packaged as popular candy, according to a provincial court judge in British Columbia.
The court heard the case of Simon Letellier earlier this year, who admitted to unlawfully possessing cannabis and cannabis solids for the purpose of selling them.
Letellier was sentenced this month for his role in a company called, according to business cards, CBD Delivery. According to an agreed statement of facts, the operation involved the illicit sale and delivery of cannabis products across BC’s Sea to Sky region.
Products including dried marijuana, packaged joints, “various CBD gummies and oils and cannabis-infused sugar for making edibles” could be purchased online and delivered the same day, between noon and 9 pm, between Squamish and Pemberton.
The operation involved the use of four vehicles registered in Letellier’s name, and appears to have been run out of a storage facility until the company got suspicious.
Judge JC Challenger said in her ruling that, in addition to traditional products, the company also sold “numerous edibles named as, and packaged to appear to be, popular brands of candy marketed to children.”
She said many of the items were found inside Letellier’s motor home when he was arrested.
According to her ruling, Letellier has chosen a “minimalist lifestyle,” living part time in the motor home and then seasonally in a live-aboard boat in Florida.
As for why Letellier got into the business, the judge wrote there was no reason why he could not have worked a traditional job.
She said he “appears to be able to work as a skilled laborer in renovation work, which would allow him to earn substantially more than $ 2,000 a month,” which is what he earned doing bathroom renos in Whistler.
He has no health, mental health or substance issues, Challenger said in her ruling, and has no criminal history that might have been a barrier to finding good jobs.
“The aggravating circumstances are that this offense was motivated solely by greed and the lure of ‘easy money,'” she said.
“The scheme was sophisticated and ongoing with the potential to produce significant profits. The offender’s choice to become and to remain involved was freely made.”
But he also pleaded guilty, forfeited almost $ 10,000 in value related to the seizure of his motor home and vehicle, and apparently had “no control” over the products that were sold, including those made to look like candy.
The judge said black-market cannabis products undermine legitimate businesses that must follow government regulations, and that the sale outside of the legal cannabis system in Canada “continues to present an opportunity to reap enormous tax free profit.”
The Resort Municipality of Whistler has chosen not to approve any retail cannabis stores, but Challenger said that does not justify the operation of illicit businesses in the area. Would-be buyers can go to Squamish or Pemberton to buy products.
Letellier, age 40, was not sentenced to time behind bars, given his “previous good character” and other factors, but the judge did feel some kind of penalty was needed.
His legal team suggested he pay just $ 3,450, saying Letellier had a “limited ability to pay a fine,” so that would be a lot of money for him. The Crown argued for a fine of $ 10,000, which the judge called “fair and reasonable.”
Still, because he’d already forfeited his home and vehicle, and because he was willing to do community service, the judge settled on a fine of $ 6,000.
He was also ordered to complete 240 hours of community service – the maximum allowed – resulting in a total cost to him (if those hours are valued at minimum wage) of $ 20,000.
He has been given two years to pay off the fine, and will be on probation for the same amount of time as he completes his community service.
When he’s done both, he can apply to end his probation.