HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Church Allegedly Dealt Pot
Pubdate: Sat, 28 Oct 2006
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2006 Southam Inc.
Author: Michelle DiPardo, National Post


More Than 20 From Toronto Group Face Charges

Members of the Assembly of the Church of the Universe in Toronto were 
pro-marijuana activists who were too lazy to agitate for the cause, a 
police source said yesterday.

"Basically these folks believe in the legalization of marijuana, but 
didn't wait for the laws to change or have not taken the appropriate 
steps to change the laws," the source said.

He also said that the church was a front for growing and selling cannabis.

"The main problem here is that people were involved in an illegal 
money-making venture that was seriously disturbing the neighbourhood," he said.

Police said they uncovered nothing that indicated to them that the 
so-called church was a house of worship.

"The only thing that would describe it as a church is the sign in the 
front. It looked like an old-time head shop," said the source. "There 
was no religious instruction provided to anybody that we observed 
within the place. The whole religious aspect is a total fraud."

The church catered to more than 2,000 people, all whom had to fill 
out forms detailing personal and medical information, according to 
one would-be member. There was also a $25 lifetime fee.

The church was located in Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood on the 
lower level of a three-storey house, where Rev. Peter Styrsky, 48, a 
fringe candidate running for mayor lives with his wife and family.

Mr. Styrsky has been charged with trafficking and conspiracy to 
traffic and is being held in custody until a bail hearing Monday morning.

In addition, 20 members of the church were arrested on drug charges 
during the raid Wednesday.

"A few had permits issued by Heath Canada to be in possession and 
grow [marijuana] for medical purposes, but we eliminated the 
humanitarian aspect of things," said the source.

Concerned parents brought the issue of the church to the attention of 
area councillor Sandra Bussin weeks ago, she said. Now she's trying 
to make sure the church is closed down permanently.

"Young, under-aged people were buying drugs there and engaged in 
illegal activity," said Ms. Bussin.

She said she still sees "young kids" wandering around the building.

Ms. Bussin said she has learned that Rev. Styrsky, who owns the 
building, has not been paying his rent and said she hoped that may 
encourage the city to seize it from him. "It's really out of place," 
she said. "I'm hopeful that's the end of it."
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