HALIFAX — In a court hearing lasting just over one minute, the Crown withdrew all charges against a Halifax marijuana advocate stemming from a series of police raids at his medical cannabis shop.
Chris Enns had planned Friday to launch a constitutional challenge under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
However, Crown attorney Jill Hartlen informed Justice Jamie Campbell that the charges filed under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act were being withdrawn.
Enns’ business, Farm Assist Cannabis Resource Centre, had been raided as part of ongoing trafficking investigations in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
In an interview following the hearing, Hartlen said the regulations around medical marijuana access had changed since the charges were filed.
She noted that the previous Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations were struck down by the courts.
"With all the factors at play, we just questioned the continued public interest in defending against a regime that had already been struck down by another court," said Hartlen.
She also referenced the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.
"That regime is not being commented upon by our actions and that regime actually offers a lot more points of access to medical users," Hartlen said.
Outside court, Enns expressed relief that the court process had officially drawn to a close.
"What a weight off my shoulders," said Enns. "I look forward to really continuing to help medical patients in Nova Scotia. I feel validated."
Enns, who had been told of the Crown's move ahead of the hearing, revealed the decision hours earlier to a group of about 30 placard waving supporters in front of the provincial courthouse in downtown Halifax.
He said the withdrawal of the charges amounted to validation for medical cannabis users and for providers.
"This is a clear indication from the Crown that they believe there is merit to what we are doing, and there is a lack of merit to the charges that were before the court," he told the gathering. "It's an exciting day in Nova Scotia."
During the hearing, Enns' Vancouver-based lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, said via speaker phone that his client would be seeking the return of items seized in the raids that weren't related to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The Crown said it would co-operate.
Enns said he is seeking the return of items that include cash and laptops, along with patient and accounting records.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press