Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jun 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Gordon Paul
Page: B1


Prosecutor calls for $10,000 fine to deter others

KITCHENER - Granting an absolute discharge to a young Kitchener couple
who operated an illegal marijuana dispensary in uptown Waterloo would
send the wrong message, a federal prosecutor told a judge on Tuesday.

Some people will conclude the risk of running a dispensary is worth
the reward, Kathleen Nolan said.

"The floodgates will open," she told Justice Colin

Nour Louka, 30, owned and operated the Waterloo Dispensary, which sold
marijuana out of a second-floor business on King Street. Her husband,
Shady Louka, 32, was a part-time, temporary employee.

The Loukas say they only sold cannabis to adults with medical
marijuana licences. The dispensary was busted by police in August.

Both have pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana for the purpose of
trafficking. Shady Louka also pleaded guilty to careless storage of a
9 mm Glock handgun in their home.

The Crown is seeking convictions and $10,000 fines. Their lawyers say
the pair deserve an absolute discharge.

"The Loukas were providing medicine to sick people," said Paul Lewin,
defence lawyer for Nour Louka. "In terms of placing this on a spectrum
of offences, helping sick people surely has to be at the very, very
bottom of that spectrum."

Shady Louka was arrested with more than $10,000 cash in the trunk of
his car. Another $4,400 in Canadian money and $1,829 in U.S. cash was
found at their house, plus a money counter.

Defence lawyer Sean Safa, who represents Shady Louka, said the police
seizure cost the Loukas more than $90,000.

Lewin said both Loukas felt shame and embarrassment after being
charged and "anguish" about entering guilty pleas.

Court heard other dispensaries got warnings from police to cease and
desist or they would be raided. The Loukas were not warned.

Westman said he was "troubled" that the Loukas weren't warned, saying
it's "not quite just" that they were treated differently.

"People don't deserve to get a warning when they're committing illegal
activity," Nolan said. "Some people get warnings, some people don't.
If someone knows they're committing a crime, I can't imagine why one
would think they could expect a warning."

Both Loukas have a licence to use medical marijuana to treat chronic
pain from a 2015 car crash.

Nour Louka's difficulty accessing "suitable strains," and knowing
other people had the same problem, prompted her to start the
dispensary in April 2016, Lewin said.

He said customers were required to sign a code of conduct, promising
to not resell products, to keep it away from children, and refrain
from driving after using. "They were operating in a way that you would
expect, that you would want a dispensary to operate."

He said the Loukas were not in it to make a lot of money. A gram sold
for about $10. The dispensary also offered "compassionate pricing" for
as low as $6.

While the federal government plans to legalize recreational marijuana
use next year, trafficking will remain illegal. There is no indication
that the kind of dispensary the Loukas were operating will be legal.

Westman will sentence the Loukas on July 21. He said he is leaning
toward an absolute discharge, but added, "This is not a slam dunk."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt