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Cash forfeiture at pre-legalization Regina cannabis shop takes step forward

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A long running legal battle surrounding cash seized from a Regina marijuana shop that opened prior to cannabis legalization in Canada has taken a step forward.

In March 2018, Regina police seized approximately $21,000 in cash from the Best Buds Society in the city’s warehouse district as part of an investigation into the dispensary’s owner, Patrick Warnecke, over marijuana sales.

The dispensary was raided after multiple warnings from police, one of several illegal pot shops that faced raids leading up to Canada’s eventual legalization of the drug in October 2018.

Warnecke’s attempt to bring about the potential return of the money was dismissed by a judge in a decision dated March 12, filed in response to a crown application for the seized cash to be forfeited to the crown.

Warnecke has long contended that his shop was a medical dispensary, even looking to add Health Canada as a party in the lingering litigation if his attempt to overturn the forfeiture did not succeed.

“Warnecke sets out in his brief a lengthy review of the history of the licensing process he faced with the Federal government and the Minister [of Health]’s role,” the decision reads. “In the end, Warnecke contends Health Canada’s alleged actions were negligent or otherwise harmful to him.”

The request was also rejected by the judge, saying the addition of another party would “unduly delay the resolution of this matter in any event.”

The judge agreed with the crown assessment that the property in question was the result of “unlawful activity”, in line with the Seizure of Criminal Property Act.

As a result of the decision, the forfeiture process will move forward “as soon as possible”. The next step will see the crown’s application for forfeiture going back before court at a later date.

Best Buds is listed on both Google and its Facebook page as being permanently closed.

-- With files from Jessica Smith and Colton Wiens. 

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