Marijuana grower moves forward with his case against town

Medical marijuana grow operator moving forward with lawsuit against the Town of Ponoka.

  • Aug. 19, 2015 11:00 a.m.

By Murray Crawford

Advocate staff

He may have lost the first battle in a lawsuit against the Town of Ponoka, but Robert Koteles now has a road map for moving forward with his claim.

Koteles has a licence to produce medical marijuana for his own use.

He has filed a claim against Ponoka after the town ordered the removal of a sea container that housed his grow-operation.

In Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday, Koteles sought immediate judgment from the Justice Debra Yungwirth.

Bradley Nattrass, representing Ponoka, sought for a dismissal of the application, saying it was inappropriate for the matter to be heard in a morning chambers session.

Yungwirth agreed with Nattrass, but said she would provide guidance to Koteles — who is self-represented — on how to properly proceed on his statement of claim.

After his matter was heard, Koteles said he was relieved it was going forward and grateful for the guidance from Yungwirth on how to proceed. His next step is filing an affidavit of records, which will inform the proceedings.

Koteles, a member of the Cannabis Rights Coalition, filed the statement of claim on June 5, seeking compensation for loss and medical distress.

He suffers from severe arthritis pain in his upper and lower back and is authorized to grow up to 44 marijuana plants for his use only.

He had his grow-operation set up in a sea container on a driveway at a residence on 60th Avenue in Ponoka in 2012. By 2013, the town had ordered the sea can removed.

After applying for a temporary structure permit, which was refused by the town and then by the subdivision and developmental appeal board, he had to dismantle the grow-operation.

His statement of claim said his Charter rights have been breached because the town’s order was to remove a federally authorized medical marijuana grow operation. He also said another sea can was in place a block east of his. And he said the town has compromised his health, safety and finances.

The Town of Ponoka denies all of the allegations. In its statement of defence, the town states the placement and use of the sea can as a greenhouse was in contravention of the municipality’s land use bylaw.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Koteles states in an affidavit that in lieu of using marijuana, he has been prescribed hydromorphone and other opiates, which he said exacerbate his breathing problems. He claims this leads to other health issues, including sleeplessness, anxiety, heart palpitations and panic attacks.

He has filed an address change application with Health Canada to relocate and start over. The application is on hold until the outcome of Allard et al versus Regina, a federal court case about new laws that would force medical marijuana patients to purchase from industry producers instead of growing their own.

Now living in the Philippines, Koteles is only in Canada for court proceedings. But he said he can’t afford to fly back and forth constantly.

(From Red Deer Advocate)