08/14/2013 07:09 EDT | Updated 10/14/2013 05:12 EDT

Transgender Offender Avoids Jail Time After Marijuana Bust

A 25-year-old Nova Scotia transgender man has escaped a jail sentence because of his unique personal circumstances.

Jesiah Dean MacDonald of Pictou County was convicted on one charge of producing marijuana earlier this year. A conviction usually comes with jail time for a first offence. Police found 46 plants when they searched an apartment in February.

MacDonald told police they weren't his plants and it wasn't his residence. He said he was being paid to look after them.

MacDonald, born Jessica Dean MacDonald, told the court he wanted to use the money from the marijuana to pay for a sex-change operation.

He also suffers from Crohn's disease and said he relies on marijuana to ease pain related to the condition.

After sentencing him to a year's probation and a $1,000 fine, Justice Nick Scaravelli said: “The difficulty in the present case is balancing the need for a strong statement of denunciation and general deterrence and addressing the offender's unique personal circumstances."

The judge noted MacDonald was trying to pay for a gender reassignment procedure.

"I am satisfied there are unusual circumstances in the present case," Scaravelli said.

"I do not doubt that changing one’s gender identity is a life-altering and difficult process," the judge added.

The Crown had asked for a month in jail. Changes to the law meant a conditional sentence is no longer an option in such cases.