Manitoba

Brandon couple sues RCMP, Health Canada after pot plants seized, destroyed

A Brandon couple has filed a civil lawsuit against the RCMP after their legal marijuana grow operation was raided and destroyed.

RCMP raided warehouse where Jerry Pomehichuk and Brenda Wakefield grew medical marijuana in 2015

Jerry Pomehichuk and his common-law wife, Brenda Wakefield, say the RCMP improperly seized and destroyed 206 plants and five kilograms of dried marijuana in 2015. (Alexandre Meneghini/The Associated Press)

A Brandon couple has filed a civil lawsuit against the RCMP after their legal marijuana grow operation was raided and destroyed.

Jerry Pomehichuk and his common-law wife, Brenda Wakefield, are suing for damages incurred in the raid in June 2015, says a statement of claim filed in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench in June.

The couple named three RCMP officers in the suit, along with Health Canada and Canada's attorney general. 

A Manitoba RCMP spokesperson said the force cannot comment because the matter is now before the courts. Health Canada also said in a statement that it would be inappropriate to comment because the matter is currently before the courts.

No statements of defence have been filed and the claims haven't been proven in court. 

The RCMP believed the couple's Health Canada licences to grow marijuana for personal medical use and to possess dry marijuana had expired because they were told by Health Canada that no "business operators" existed in the Brandon area at the time, the claim says.

RCMP also believed the number of plants in the warehouse was above the allowable limit. 

Charges laid, later stayed

The couple was legally allowed to grow 293 plants in the Brandon warehouse, the claim says. Police raided the warehouse and seized 206 plants and five kilograms of dried marijuana on June 21, 2015.

Pomehichuk was later charged with production of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking, but federal Crown attorneys stayed the charges on Aug. 14, 2015, after learning Pomehichuk did hold a valid licence from Health Canada.

A judge ordered the marijuana plants and dried marijuana be returned to Pomehichuk. However, the plants had already been destroyed and the dried marijuana had become mouldy. 

The couple accuse the RCMP of acting hastily and negligently in their investigation. 

Plantiffs held valid licences 

"The plantiffs state that Health Canada records any and all inquiries that are made about a licence holder's account.… As of June 22, 2015, there were no inquiries noted on [Pomehichuk's] Health Canada account relating to his licences," the claim states.

"Soon thereafter, Health Canada advised the defendants … that the plaintiffs did indeed hold valid and legitimate licences," the claim says. 

As a result, Pomehichuk claims his arrest was unjust and false. He claims Health Canada was also negligent by failing to maintain a proper system to notify authorities about the status of a person's licence. 

Pomehichuk and Wakefield seek damages for charter breaches, as well as for the destruction of the marijuana plants and the dried marijuana. The claim says the RCMP's forced entry also caused $400 in damage to a steel door and nearly $2,700 for a safety inspection that was needed as a result. 

They also seek $2,800 in legal expenses to defend the stayed charges.  

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