Pubdate: Sat, 15 Aug 2015
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2015 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Ian Hitchen
Page: A16


MOUNTIES will have to give back the weed they seized after mistakenly 
raiding a grow-op, only to later learn the owner had a valid permit 
to grow medical marijuana.

The property owner, Brandon resident Jerry Pomehichuk, suggests the 
incident highlights law enforcement isn't keeping up with 
medical-marijuana laws.

He says police don't see marijuana as medicine, but still as a 
substance that needs to be controlled.

"They've been trained one way for a long time, and it's very hard to 
train an old dog," Pomehichuk said Friday after all drug charges 
against him were dropped.

However, Blue Hills RCMP Acting Staff Sgt. Mike Boychuk said it 
wasn't a mistake based on law enforcement mentality. He said it was 
an honest error that was a result of miscommunication with Health Canada.

"If I would have known that they'd had licences, we wouldn't have 
pulled the trigger on it," Boychuk said. "What needs to change is, I 
believe, a better communication system with Health Canada so that 
police officers are aware who has licences and who doesn't in their 
own local area."

Blue Hills RCMP led the investigation, which resulted in the raid of 
a commercial building in the RM of Cornwallis June 21, after being 
informed that there was a grow-op there.

They put the building under surveillance on June 20, detected an 
odour of marijuana coming from building's vents and arrested 
Pomehichuk who was seen leaving the building.

Mounties got a warrant, raided the building and found what was 
described as a sophisticated grow-op. They seized 206 plants and 
nearly five kilograms of dried marijuana from inside.

It was only after the fact police learned Pomehichuk and his wife had 
valid licenses for the production and possession of marijuana.

Pomehichuk and his lawyer, Eric Wach, have said the couple was within 
the allowable amount of marijuana they could grow and possess.

As charges against Pomehichuk were dropped on Friday, Wach 
successfully asked the judge to order the return of all the seized drugs.

However, RCMP confirm all the plants have since been destroyed - 
police got a destruction order from Health Canada due to a lack of 
appropriate storage.

The dried marijuana remains, and presumably will be returned to Pomehichuk.

In court, Crown attorney Christina Cheater indicated Pomehichuk could 
seek remedy in civil court for any plants that were improperly seized 
and destroyed.
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