MMJ Canada was shut down by Nelson police in March 2018. Five employees were arrested at the time, but will not be charged. File photo

Nelson police chief: Charges dropped against MMJ cannabis employees for lack of public interest

Chief Paul Burkart says federal prosecutors had no problems with the department’s investigation

Police Chief Paul Burkart says federal prosecutors have scrapped recommended charges against Nelson cannabis dispensary employees for a lack of public interest in pursuing the case.

Nelson police arrested five employees of MMJ Canada’s Nelson location on March 20, 2018. But on July 25 the Public Prosecutors Service of Canada (PPSC) said it would not approve charges against the employees.

The PPSC handles the prosecution of federal offenses such as organized crime, drugs and money laundering,

Burkart said in a statement Friday that the department was advised by Crown counsel that despite the decision it had no issues with the investigation.

“Our investigation into the MMJ and their staff included public complaints about the business, drug purchases done by undercover police officers, and the information which resulted from our search warrant,” said Burkart.

“Our investigation showed that MMJ was operating well outside what we expected from our dispensaries, and well outside what we felt would be acceptable to our courts and the case law that the judges created around the dispensaries.”

Burkart said five employees were arrested at the time of the raid, but a sixth person was also later arrested. He also said trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking were the recommended charges.

It’s also not clear if the federal legalization of cannabis nearly seven months after the arrests on Oct. 17, 2018 was a factor in the Crown’s decision.

A spokesperson for the PPSC previously declined to comment on the specifics of the decision and instead referred a Star reporter to section 2.3 of its guidelines titled “Decision to Prosecute,” which states:

“When deciding whether to initiate and conduct a prosecution on behalf of the federal Crown, Crown counsel must consider two issues:

“Is there is a reasonable prospect of conviction based on evidence that is likely to be available at trial? If there is, would a prosecution best serve the public interest?

“If the answer to either question is no, the test is not met, and the prosecution should not proceed. If charges have been laid, the charges should be withdrawn or a stay of proceedings entered.”

MMJ Canada’s location at 752 Vernon St. has been closed since the arrests.

“We are satisfied that MMJ has closed their operations in Nelson, as we do not believe that their business and their business practice was a good fit for our community,” said Burkart.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Nelson Leafs lose to Dynamiters 4-3 in overtime

The game got off to a bizarre start early in the first period

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Heart, minds, and 100 years of the Nelson library

Past and future collide this year at the Nelson library, and it all kicks off this weekend

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Most Read