Pubdate: Wed, 30 Aug 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Keith Fraser
Page: 11


A Vancouver Island man whose marijuana grow-op was busted has had
trafficking charges stayed because his case took too long to get to
trial, the latest in a series of such cases in B.C.

Nicholas Christian Boehme, 51, was arrested on May 25, 2012 after
police searched his home in Youbou and his office in Victoria.

The residence was the site of two valid licenses to grow medical
marijuana issued by Health Canada, one of them issued to Boehme to
grow 205 plants and store 9,225 grams of dried marijuana.

Police located three rooms in the house containing 217 plants and 153
grams of dried marijuana and another 19.9 kilograms of dried marijuana
from the garage.

Earlier, police seized 18 packages of marijuana that Boehme mailed
from a post office in Duncan with receipts indicating he sold the
drugs for $6,473. On another occasion, police seized 12 packages of
marijuana mailed by Boehme with receipts indicating the drugs were
sold for $5,109.

Court heard that Boehme had long acknowledged he was distributing
marijuana illegally, but only to people authorized by federal law to
have and use the drugs for medical purposes.

"He was operating in plain view and the government knew what he was up
to," B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robin Baird said in his ruling on the
trial delay issue. "Prior to his arrest, in fact, he had been
attempting to persuade Health Canada officials that the best way to
remedy gaps in the supply of medical cannabis would be to license
independent producers such as himself to distribute freely within this

But police took a different view and in January 2013 he was charged
with two counts of trafficking and one count of possession for the
purpose of trafficking.

After numerous delays, his jury trial was set for Oct. 2, meaning the
total delay from laying charges to the expected end of the case was
about 57 months.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada found there was a culture of
complacency in the court system and set deadlines for the completion
of court cases of 18 months for matters tried in provincial court and
30 months for cases in superior courts.

In his ruling, Baird found that even accepting the Crown's arguments
for discounting some of the delay, there was an unreasonable delay of
36.5 months, substantially exceeding the limits.

"The meandering process of the matter has been the result of a failure
by all participants to drive it to a conclusion within a reasonable
time," Baird said. "Criminal cases, if they are to be brought at all,
must not be permitted to drift the way this one did."

According to figures released by the B.C. Prosecution Service, there
have been 21 criminal cases in the province this year in which stays
of proceedings have been entered due to unreasonable trial delay.

There were 19 stays of proceedings in B.C. last year, seven of them
provincially prosecuted and the rest federally prosecuted.

The Boehme case was prosecuted federally by the Public Prosecution
Service of Canada, which said in an email Tuesday that it had not yet
decided whether to launch an appeal.
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