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Former South Okanagan cannabis dispensary owner fights criminal charge

Click to play video: 'Former South Okanagan cannabis dispensary owner fights criminal charge' Former South Okanagan cannabis dispensary owner fights criminal charge
Former South Okanagan cannabis dispensary owner fights criminal charge – Aug 26, 2019

A prominent Okanagan cannabis activist made a brief court appearance in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton on Monday to face one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Jukka Laurio was charged after his illegal cannabis dispensary in Okanagan Falls, 20 km south of Penticton, was raided by police in May 2018.

“They just came in there, they confiscated all the goods and stuff, and took me downtown and released me,” he told Global Okanagan outside the courthouse.

WATCH: (April 2017) City of Penticton takes pot shop to court

Click to play video: 'City of Penticton takes pot shop to court' City of Penticton takes pot shop to court
City of Penticton takes pot shop to court – Apr 27, 2017

Laurio, who is representing himself in court, is vowing to fight the criminal charge.

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“I thought it was alittle bit over the top,” he said.

Laurio was the first operator to openly sell cannabis in Penticton, prior to federal legalization.

READ MORE: Okanagan Falls pot shop vandalized

He ultimately moved his dispensary outside of city limits after a two-year showdown with police and the city.

“The disagreement with the City of Penticton was getting outrageous, I was tired of arguing,” he said.

Last May, the B.C. Supreme Court issued an order requiring Laurio to pay the largest fine ever levied against a pot shop in B.C. at the time for his Penticton operation.

The city obtained an injunction against Laurio and Herbal Green Apothecary was prohibited from selling or possessing cannabis and ordered to pay $15,000 in fines — half of the amount originally issued for operating without a business licence.

Click to play video: 'Defiant Penticton pot shop owner refuses to close despite city order' Defiant Penticton pot shop owner refuses to close despite city order
Defiant Penticton pot shop owner refuses to close despite city order – Jan 10, 2017

WATCH: (January 2017) Defiant Penticton pot shop owner refuses to close despite city order

With the civil action over, Laurio’s criminal case is heading to trial.

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He said he will argue running the shop was a practice of civil disobedience to advocate for federal legalization.

READ MORE: Unlicensed Penticton pot shop moves to Okanagan Falls

“We’re the ones that won the war! Release us!,” he said.

The federal government has promised pardons for people convicted of simple possession, but Laurio said trafficking charges laid prior to legalization should be dropped as well.

“You declared it legal but it’s not retroactive? That’s just silliness.”

The matter was put over to Sept. 16 to fix a date for trial.

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