The manager of a dispensary in Williams Lake that was the subject of two RCMP raids before marijuana became legalized across the country has received a global fine of $10,000.
37-year-old Mark Cowan of Mary Jane’s Glass & Gifts was sentenced Thursday morning in Williams Lake Provincial Court after entering a guilty plea.
“I had thought the transition to legalization might be a little smoother than where we’re at right now,” Cowan told MyCaribooNow.
“But it is what it is. That’s the best way I can take that.”
Cowan who has no prior criminal record says there are still plans to reopen Mary’s Jane Glass & Gifts.
He says it was a business decision by WEEDS itself to close the store as they knew where they were fully supported and where they weren’t, and that they were being fined by the City of Williams Lake on a daily basis.
“The City of Kamloops also was not very friendly towards us either and so it was the franchise’s decision to close both stores on the day of legalization. Our North Vancouver store also had to close but our Vancouver locations have stayed running and Sechelt, “Cowan says.
“We have a lot of work to do to set up shop, but I’m always optimistic about the future. I’m a hopeful person.”
Prior to the legalization of marijuana, Williams Lake RCMP received information that a business on Oliver Street was selling cannabis.
On April 3, 2017, an undercover officer purchased 3.5 grams of marijuana for $50 with the Williams Lake RCMP executing a search warrant later that afternoon seizing $3,500 in cash and 1.5 kg of cannabis product including marijuana bud, cannabis seeds, edibles, and cannabis pills.
A second search warrant was executed on April 15, 2018, with 2.7 kg of cannabis and just under $3,000 in cash seized.
“One of the things that separate these types of stores from street trafficking is everything in the store is tested to make sure that it’s a safe product and to make sure that there aren’t other things in it such as fentanyl,” said Defence Counsel Alfred Kaiser.
“Your honor also knows that this is sort of the leadup to the legalization. It’s now legal and there are a few stores in the province, and I understand the whole process of legalizing stores and actually licensing them is somewhat stalled. This actual store (Mary Jane’s Glass & Gifts) is under the licensing process right now and there are a number of things that are still sort of in the works with licensing the store and having it up and running, but it’s expected it will be a fully licensed store up and running at some point.”
Kaiser called the $10,000 penalty significant and said another penalty for Cowan to have as the result of a criminal conviction is that Cowan will now have that record that will have large impacts on his life moving forward.
“Part of a factor here is that some stores were busted and some were left alone,” Kaiser said.
“As I say Mr. Cowan has accepted responsibility. The co-accused in this matter was also sentenced here in Williams Lake here at one point and the result of that sentencing was a conditional discharge. Now we’re not asking that because we understand that a greater deal of moral responsibility from Mr. Cowan is required.”
Judge Donna Senniw noted that the state of the law was about to be implemented shortly after the offences were committed.
“No doubt that has had an impact on the submission that Crown has put forward,” Senniw said to Cowan.
“It seems to me as you have no criminal record and you’ve pled guilty which is a mitigating circumstance that the joint submission that counsel has proposed here is appropriate.”
Cowan also received a mandatory 10-year firearms prohibition.