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Pot activist Tim Felger acquitted of all drug charges
Pot activist Tim Felger has been acquitted of all charges related to accusations that he had sold marijuana, including to teens, out of his downtown Abbotsford store in 2009.
Felger, 55, faced seven charges – six counts of trafficking in a controlled substance and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking – but he was acquitted Monday in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack after Justice Brian Joyce threw out all the evidence.
Joyce ruled that a police search of Felger's Da Kine store, located at that time on Essendene Avenue, breached his charter rights.
Felger's lawyer had argued that police had repeatedly come into his store, amounting to unauthorized searches, prior to a drug warrant being served and his subsequent arrest in May 2009.
Joyce agreed that police had trespassed on Felger's property by ignoring signs he had posted that stated "no member of the Abbotsford Police Department is allowed onto this premise without a warrant."
Because they had trespassed, any evidence they gathered during those visits – and which led to their reasons for obtaining a search warrant – was collected illegally, the judge stated.
This then made invalid the search warrant and any evidence collected from it.
Felger heralded the ruling.
"This is a big victory for people who have an expectation of privacy … I did not want the police just barging in my store and home anytime they felt like it with no warrant," he said.
All charges were also dropped against Felger's co-accused Natasha Healy. Crown counsel is considering whether to appeal the ruling.
Felger still faces other legal battles.
He plans to fight the City of Abbotsford over the cancellation of his business licence in 2009 after the drug charges were laid against him.
Following the decision, Felger kept Da Kine open, saying it was a political office for the use of his campaign to legalize marijuana.
But he was evicted from the location in April 2010 by court order after the owner of the building, Dan Banov, alleged that Felger owed him about $53,000 in back rent.
Felger disputed the claim, saying he owns half the building and his rent was paid in full. He has launched a civil suit against Banov.
"I plan on taking my building back and re-opening Da Kine," he said.
After his eviction from the Abbotsford location, Felger set up Das Bhang, a "political office" and store on Horne Street in Mission.
He was charged in early 2011 with two counts of trafficking in a controlled substance and two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking for allegedly selling pot from that location.
Felger's next appearance on that matter is slated for March 6 in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack, although it will likely be adjourned, pending an outcome of the possible appeal on the Abbotsford case.