Jukka Laurio looks over some of the remaining stock of buds in the members lounge of his Herbal Green marijuana dispensary on Westminster Avenue on his final day of sales Wednesday. Earlier this month RCMP ordered local dispensaries to cease operations. Mark Brett/Western News

South Okanagan cannabis dispensary operator that was raided is going to trial

Store operator is facing one charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking

A former cannabis dispensary operator and Penticton mayoral candidate is taking his possession for the purpose of trafficking charge to trial.

“The last stand of the last soldier I guess, I don’t know. There is a story to be told, a social-political story that involves more than marijuana … I want the rest of the story to come out,” said Jukka Laurio, outside of the courthouse on Tuesday after letting the court know he wants to face a judge alone trial.

Laurio was charged after his dispensary, that was allegedly operating illegally in Okanagan Falls, was raided last May.

READ MORE: RCMP raid Okanagan Falls dispensary

The raid at Herbal Green Apothecary in Okanagan Falls was a result of an investigation where RCMP had stopped two people leaving the premises.

In one instance the RCMP seized a cardboard box containing an eighth of an ounce of cannabis from a woman. She told the police she did not have a prescription or licence to possess. A second person stopped had a sealed box with “Herbal Green Apothecary” on one of the seals and it contained 22 grams of marijuana. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

READ MORE: Penticton pot store moved to Okanagan Falls

The Western News learned that 100 pounds of cannabis and edibles were seized from Herbal Green. Police also seized containers of vaporizer refills and THC-infused honey, balms, creams, perfume, membership cards and other items.

Prior to opening the store in Okanagan Falls, Laurio had been running an illegal dispensary in Penticton but closed after a two-year battle with the City of Penticton for not having a proper business licence. A court decision ordered Laurio to pay $15,000 in fines to the City of Penticton and to cease any cannabis sales.

Laurio said if he is found not guilty of the charges he will pursue opening a legal store.

“Of course, it’s a retail store. What the hell, if I had a chance to open a bar I would even though I don’t drink. I am a businessman. If I can open a business, I will open a business,” he said.

The storefront in Okanagan Falls has now been leased by Laurio to someone else who is running a small gym.

Laurio’s 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. As well, in 2004, he had one each for trafficking in scheduled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Laurio is scheduled to be back in court on June 10 to fix a date for the trial.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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