RCMP on scene of the Herbal Green Apothecary in Okanagan Falls on Wednesday. Tara Bowie/Western News

Court documents reveal South Okanagan cannabis dispensary probe

Police reportedly stopped 2 people at 2 different shops over 2 days in March prior to investigation

Police appear to have been watching South Okanagan cannabis dispensaries in March, as court documents note two seizures of pot in as many days as customers left a pair of dispensaries.

According to an information to obtain (ITO), a document filed with the courts to gain a search warrant, RCMP stopped two individuals leaving dispensaries on March 19 and 20.

The ITO was filed by Const. Ryan Shedden and a search warrant granted on May 30, the day police raided the Herbal Green Apothecary in Okanagan Falls. None of the allegations in the ITO have been proven in court, and court records show Laurio does not currently face any charges on the matter.

Related: RCMP raids Okanagan Falls dispensary

On the first day, Const. Fahlman with the RCMP’s South Okanagan Traffic Services stopped a woman who left Herbal Green and seized a cardboard box containing an eighth of an ounce of cannabis. She reportedly told Fahlman she did not have a prescription or licence to possess.

The following day, Fahlman reported to stopping a man who had left Green Essence, a dispensary in Penticton that ceased cannabis sales this week.

Fahlman reported having smelled cannabis in the vehicle the man was driving and arrested him for possession of a controlled substance. A sealed box with “Herbal Green Apothecary” on the seals was found to contain 22 grams, Fahlman wrote in his police report, quoted in the ITO.

Penticton RCMP spokesperson Const. James Grandy could not confirm whether or not there had been a concerted effort in the force to observe dispensaries at that time in March.

Related: Penticton RCMP tells dispensary Green Essence to stop selling pot

However, if Green Essence had been under observation at the time, police do not appear to be pursuing legal action, having given operators of the shop a warning on Monday this week, leading to the closure of its dispensary. Grandy said he was “not sure that the OK Falls store did not receive any warning.”

Penticton RCMP’s Targeted Enforcement Unit began its investigation into Herbal Green about two months later, on May 25, just five days prior to the execution of the search warrant.

On May 28, TEU officers surveilled the store on Main Street in Okanagan Falls, and at two points, both around noon, officers stopped people leaving the store. First, police said they seized two cardboard boxes containing a combined quarter-ounce of pot.

That was followed shortly by two women who were reportedly found to have had two syringes of CBD oil and THC oil, both active components of cannabis. Police wrote in the ITO that they also seized five capsules of THC, which the women said they bought at Herbal Green.

The following day, police reportedly entered the store wearing clearly marked police vests and spoke to Laurio, who allegedly admitted he had no licence to sell or grow cannabis and that he had 50 pounds of the substance on site.

In fact, police seized around 100 pounds of cannabis and edibles. Police also documented seizure of containers of vaporizer refills and THC-infused honey, balms and creams, perfume, membership cards, a receipt book, $770, a scale, a security hard drive, billing correspondence from FortisBC and a stun baton.

Sheddon wrote that he suspected a search would also turn up banking documents, which he anticipated would “show that sales are being made daily, and that Laurio is profiting from these sales.”

According to the ITO, Laurio is listed as “charged” in three files, “complainant” in 14 files, “subject of complainant” in 11 files (two for trafficking), “suspect” in seven files (all for trafficking) and “suspect chargeable” for three files (all for trafficking).

His criminal record includes 10 convictions — three for possession of a narcotic and one for trafficking in narcotics in the 1970s; one for cultivation of narcotic in 1997, one for sexual assault and in 2004 he had one each for trafficking in scheduled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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