BRITISH COLUMBIA

Kamloops man fights in court for return of his 10 medicinal marijuana plants

02/21/2015 02:23 EST | Updated 04/23/2015 05:59 EDT
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - A Kamloops man who is seeking the return of 10 medicinal marijuana plants seized by police last summer will have to wait another month to find out if he will be reunited with his buds.

Henry Rhode was in Kamloops provincial court on Friday, fighting for the return of the marijuana seized on June 17, 2014.

Court heard Rhode had Health Canada licences to possess and produce marijuana that expired on Feb. 6, 2014. However, because of a ruling by a Federal Court judge in Vancouver last March — a decision that allowed certain licensees to continue to produce and possess medicinal marijuana even after their licences lapsed — he was told they were still valid.

Police were called to Rhode's Yew Street apartment in North Kamloops on June 17, 2014, because his daughter was intoxicated and causing a disturbance, court heard. Rhode was not home at the time.

RCMP Const. Jean Lehbauer said she was welcomed into the apartment by Rhode's daughter. Once inside, Lehbauer said she looked down a hallway and saw a number of mature marijuana plants in plain view.

Lehbauer said she and her partner unsuccessfully searched for a Health Canada production certificate.

"My thought was, 'There's pot plants growing in this apartment and I'm trying to determine whether there's a certificate for them to grow there,'" Lehbauer testified.

"I decided to cut them down because I could not leave them there legally without a certificate."

During cross-examination, Rhode tried to ask Lehbauer if she smokes marijuana.

"That is not relevant," Kamloops provincial court Judge Roy Dickey said.

"That's way beyond the bounds."

Federal Crown prosecutor Matt Huculak said the plants, which have been in evidence lockup at the Kamloops RCMP Battle Street detachment since June, should not be returned because Rhode's licence was invalid at the time of the seizure.

"As such, he is not the lawful owner of these plants and is not entitled to the return of them," Huculak said.

Rhode called the seizure "an injustice."

"I think they were taken wrong," he said.

"That's my medicine. They should have at least waited an hour and talked to me personally before cutting those plants down."

Rhode said he had previously asked RCMP to inspect his medicinal grow-op, but said officers never contacted him.

"They knew I had a licence," he said. "They did. I totally disagree with what's happened."

Dickey said he needs time to think about his decision.

"I certainly have some sympathy for your circumstances, but cases are not decided on sympathy," the judge told Rhode. "It has to be decided on the law."

Dickey said he will have a decision in March.

A date for the decision will be set next week.

(Kamloops This Week)