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By Hempology | November 24, 2005

The founder of Nova Scotia’s Marijuana party, on parole for conspiring to traffic marijuana, is free to go south in March.

Michael Patriquen recently applied to the National Parole Board to change the conditions of his release, allowing him to travel to Jamaica, Mexico or Cuba with his wife and child.

“I’m regaining my freedom because I’m not a risk to anyone,” he said Monday of the Nov. 17 decision.

Mr. Patriquen said he has no immediate plans to travel but now has “the flexibility if something comes up.”

After checking with the consulates for those countries, “your parole supervisor found there were no problems with or visas required for you to enter either of these countries,” the decision says.

The 51-year-old Middle Sackville man was sentenced in 2002 to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess and traffic marijuana in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland between 1999 and 2000. The court heard that he was responsible for organizing several large-scale marijuana-growing operations in Nova Scotia and trafficking in Newfoundland.

He has been on parole since September 2004 and has “presented with no criminal behaviour and ( has ) followed all the expectations of your correctional plan,” the parole report says.

Mr. Patriquen suffers from chronic back pain stemming from injuries in a 1999 motor vehicle accident and has hepatitis C, which he alleges he contracted while in prison. He has a Health Canada permit to grow his own marijuana for medical use.

Considering his behaviour and the lack of objections from the governments of his preferred vacation destinations, the board ruled that it “does not see any problems arising regarding your risk to reoffend or not to return home.”

“It therefore gives permission for you to holiday with your family in Cuba, Mexico or Jamaica in the month of March 2006.”

This change in conditions allows Mr. Patriquen to apply for a passport.

It’s not known whether his wife, Melanie Stephen-Patriquen, will be able to go on holidays then, as she is scheduled for trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax in February and March on proceeds of crime and money-laundering charges.

Mr. Patriquen’s court battles haven’t ended since his release from jail. In January, he was given two years to pay a $258,427 fine ordered by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge for possessing the proceeds of crime.

Justice Peter Richard also handed down a three-year sentence, to be served concurrently with a six-year prison term, for which Mr. Patriquen is currently on parole.

The three-year sentence is retroactive to September 2003, when Mr. Patriquen pleaded guilty to the proceeds-of-crime charge.

MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin

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