Pot shop probe revealed

The Penticton RCMP had been seizing cannabis from the customers of a controversial dispensary in Okanagan Falls months prior to raiding the shop in May.

Court documents show traffic stops were conducted on a pair of customers leaving the Herbal Green Apothecary on March 19 and 20 — seizing 3.5 grams and 22 grams of cannabis.

The traffic stops were referenced in documents presented to a justice in May to obtain the search warrant that led to the RCMP raid on the Main Street storefront on May 30.

Details in the documents — called an “information to obtain” — have not been proven in court.

After the March traffic stops, the Penticton RCMP’s targeted enforcement unit re-opened an investigation into the shop less than a week before the warrant was executed. The unit conducted their own traffic stops on customers, and then sent a uniformed officer into the store on May 29.

The officer spoke to the shop’s owner, Jukka Laurio, who admitted to selling cannabis without a license and having 50 pounds of the product in the back.

The next day, officers raided the store looking for cannabis, currency and banking documents to prove Laurio was profiting from the venture.

Police found 134 pounds of bulk dried marijuana, hundreds of THC/CBD capsules, two large bricks of hash and a variety of cannabis oils and extracts.

Officers also took $770 from the till, $5,000 from a safe, a laptop and a stun baton.

The court documents indicate that Laurio owns the Okanagan Falls property at 963 Main Street. He opened up the dispensary to avoid further enforcement by the City of Penticton, to which he agreed to pay $15,000 worth of bylaw penalties.

Charges have not been laid in relation to the raid, but the Penticton RCMP maintains it will be recommending them to the Crown. Whether of not Crown prosecutors approve them mere months before legalization is another question.

The Penticton RCMP also delivered a verbal warning to the Green Essence dispensary this week.

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