A 32-year-old man who sold mushroom capsules to undercover police officers near the Shambhala festival two years ago won’t have a criminal record so long as he complies with conditions that include providing anti-drug education to youth.
A Nelson court heard this week that the man sold $20 worth of magic mushrooms to the officers in an off-site campground on August 2, 2010 to help pay for a ticket to the festival. (It’s unclear if there were any left; the festival sold out that year and each year since.)
Federal prosecutor Rob Brown asked for a three-month conditional sentence, saying general deterrence was a concern and called Shambhala a “feeding ground of drug activity.”
“Drug dealing is rampant [at Shambhala],” he said. “The volume is extraordinary.”
Brown pointed to a fatality at this year’s festival, the first in its 15-year history, which may be linked to drugs and also referred to the disappearance of Owen Rooney, who attended the festival before he went missing from Grand Forks.
Defence lawyer William Westcott, however, noted it was a first offence and said his client had no intention of selling drugs on the festival site. He was arrested a year later while working at a hotel in Victoria, and lost his job as a result. He is now self-employed.
Westcott said he appreciated the seriousness of the offence but asked the judge to impose a conditional discharge, since a criminal record would affect the man’s ability to travel internationally — he is originally from Hungary and has family there.
Brown conceded the man was “not the typical dealer” and the case involved “significantly less” drugs than in similar cases.
Judge Ron Fabbro said he wasn’t satisfied the drug transaction was related to sales on the festival site or to young people who have overdosed or disappeared.
He imposed a conditional discharge including six months probation and 40 hours of community service, part of which will consist of anti-drug education in schools or other settings.
“Because he’s young … it’s in his best interest that a discharge be granted,” Fabbro said. He also told the accused: “The Crown took a very fair position. You may not get these breaks in the future.”
The man was one of more than 20 people charged with various drug trafficking offences following a project dubbed E-Pylorus that targed dealers at the Kaslo Jazz Festival, Nakusp Music Fest, Shambhala, and Grand Forks International baseball tournament.