Absolute discharge for owners of raided Waterloo Dispensary
Published Friday, July 21, 2017 6:02PM EDT Last Updated Friday, July 21, 2017 6:23PM EDT
The only crime committed by a couple who opened a marijuana dispensary without proper approvals was the “offence of compassion,” a judge said Friday.
Justice Colin Westman agreed to give Shady and Nour Louka absolute discharges – meaning that if they do not reoffend in the next year, they will have no criminal records.
The couple had been charged with three counts of possessing marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
The charges stem from the August 2016 raid of the Waterloo Dispensary on King Street North in Waterloo.
At the time, it was the first marijuana dispensary in Waterloo Region to be shut down by police.
Between the dispensary, the Loukas’ home and their vehicles, police found hundreds of marijuana edibles, as well as more than three pounds of dried marijuana.
The Loukas had pleaded guilty to the offences they were facing, but argued that an absolute discharge was a reasonable option because of the pending legalization of marijuana.
The Crown had initially been seeking jail time as punishment, but later lowered her suggestion to a $10,000 fine.
Westman said that he didn’t consider the fine, or any other punishment, to be appropriate for the Loukas’ actions – particularly because, as he put it, nobody was harmed by their actions.
“There was … a concern for those suffering,” he said.
A key difference between the Loukas and other dispensary operators, Westman said, is that the Loukas were never given a warning before police moved in.
Other dispensaries were given cease and desist notifications from Waterloo Regional Police before they were raided.
Defence lawyer Sean Safa says the Loukas would have stopped selling marijuana had they been given a similar warning.
Court heard that the Loukas started using marijuana when they were prescribed it after being involved in a car crash. They found that they preferred being able to buy it in person, and wanted to help others do the same.
“In their mind, they weren’t doing anything wrong,” Safa said after the sentencing.
“They were just giving help to those that may need it.”
Separately, Shady Louka is facing charges relating to the careless storage of a gun found in his house.
Those charges remain before the courts.
With reporting by Nicole Lampa