Five people arrested at a Nelson cannabis dispensary last year will not face charges.
A spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) told the Star on Thursday that charges submitted by the Nelson Police Department after officers raided MMJ Canada’s Nelson location on March 20, 2018 did not meet an approval standard.
The spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation, including the nature of the recommended charges. Chief Paul Burkart confirmed the decision but said he could not comment until he was provided a written decision from the Crown.
The PPSC, which prosecutes federal offenses such as organized crime, drugs and money laundering, instead referred the Star to section 2.3 of its guidelines titled “Decision to Prosecute,” which states:
“When deciding whether to initiate and conduct a prosecution on behalf of the federal Crown, Crown counsel must consider two issues:
“Is there is a reasonable prospect of conviction based on evidence that is likely to be available at trial? If there is, would a prosecution best serve the public interest?
“If the answer to either question is no, the test is not met, and the prosecution should not proceed. If charges have been laid, the charges should be withdrawn or a stay of proceedings entered.”
MMJ Canada’s location at 752 Vernon St. has been closed since the arrests.
Since then, cannabis was made legal in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018. In February, Nelson city council approved Green Room and Nelson Potorium to operate in its downtown zone where MMJ Canada also resided. Kootenays Cannabis Tree was also approved to operate in the lakeside/industrial zone.
An application to take over MMJ’s space was made to the city by Quadz Cannabis in April, but it was rejected because only two stores are allowed to operate in the downtown zone.
A third dispensary on Baker Street, Buddy’s Place, was meanwhile given a three-year temporary use permit by the city. Two other zones in Nelson, Railtown and Nelson Ave., are still without applicants.
None of the three approved dispensaries have received final provincial approval to operate.