A woman found in Clearwater with 21 kg of marijuana and $17,000 cash in her vehicle was sentenced on Monday to eight months in jail and the forfeiture of the cash.
The woman, Joanne Ashby, was driving a rented vehicle when she was stopped near Clearwater on Dec. 23, 2008.
The vehicle was traveling 94 km/h in an 80-km/h zone. The police officer noticed that the driver had the window and sunroof open, even though it was -21C.
The vehicle had been rented in Kelowna and Ashby said she was on her way to Edmonton to see her mother.
After the vehicle stopped, the police officer noticed a strong smell of vegetative marijuana coming from it, as well as the smell of men’s cologne.
He arrested and searched Ashby, but did not find any marijuana on her person. He then searched the vehicle itself and found 21 kg of marijuana, having a value of approximately $85,000, in the trunk of the vehicle. He found $17,000 in cash in a bag on the passenger seat as well as a document in the name of Ashby in the bag. Ashby was the only occupant of the vehicle.
The case went to trial in August of 2011. During the trial, Ashby’s defense counsel argued that a previous user of the rental vehicle had left the marijuana and she did not know it was there.
Judge R.E. Powers delivered his judgment in October and found Ashby guilty of trafficking. He did not find it reasonable to conclude that someone could have accidentally left that amount of marijuana in the vehicle’s trunk, or that the rental company would have failed to notice it. He concluded that Ashby had been in possession of the vehicle for some time and must have noticed the smell. He also felt it was clear Ashby tried to avoid having the vehicle searched.
A police report at the time described her as 40 years old and a resident of Edmonton.