A man caught with 500 kilograms of marijuana last year admits he made a mistake by transporting such a large amount, but insists the crop was solely for medical use and was not all his.
Amrit Pal Singh Niger was stopped on May 24, 2013 after a Ridge Meadows RCMP officer noticed “an overwhelming odour of marijuana permeating the air” when he drove past a white cube van.
Police allege Niger was the driver, which he does not dispute.
According to RCMP, Niger produced a Health Canada “Authorization to Possess” permit when Const. Mike Moore approached him.
Although the permit he showed was expired, documents shown to RCMP later determined that Niger had a valid medical marijuana license that allowed him to grow 195 plants, store 8,775 grams of dried marijuana, and possess or transport 1,200 grams.
Police searched the van and found marijuana in garbage bags that a RCMP spokesperson said was “well-in excess of the allowable limit.”
Court documents show 504 kilograms of marijuana, or 504,000 grams, was seized.
Niger clarified that the seizure included whole cannabis plants, their stalks, stems and leaves.
According to Health Canada, marijuana reduces to 10-20 per cent of its original weight when dehydrated from its live plant form. Niger said RCMP returned 15 bags of marijuana to him, an amount he is medically permitted to carry.
“The only reason the rest was not returned was because the other two license holders were not present in the vehicle with me,” he said.
Niger is a cancer survivor and began using medical marihuana when he was being treated for chemotherapy.
He admitted he made a mistake by transporting the marijuana, but was doing it to placate neighbours who were complaining about the smell of the crop.
Niger and two other licensed holders were moving the crop to be dried at another location when police stopped him. The other two were in a separate vehicle, though.
Ridge Meadows RCMP confirmed 170 kilograms was returned to Niger.
He has been charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, but the allegations have yet to be proven in court.
His lawyer, John Conroy, said the matter is being reviewed by federal Crown counsel.
“I am told that there is no way of knowing how much weight the wet plants will lose when dried … but the terms of the MMAR licenses require the growers to dispose of the excess to stay within their storage limits,” Conroy added.
“What went on here was an effort to accommodate the citizens of Maple Ridge due to past complaints and the error was transporting from one legal site to another as the regulations do not appear to permit this. The marijuana had just been cut down and was still wet. The Crown Federal is reviewing the matter and hopefully we will have a decision soon.”