The RCMP will have to give back the cannabis they stole after mistakenly raiding a medical cannabis garden only to later learn that the owner had a valid permit to grow.

The grower, Brandon resident Jerry Pomehichuk, suggests the incident highlights the willful ignorance of the police when it comes to keeping up with cannabis laws.

“They’ve been trained one way for a long time, and it’s very hard to train an old dog,” Pomehichuk said Friday after all drug charges against him were dropped. He added that police don’t see it as a medicine, but still as a substance that must be controlled.

However, Blue Hills RCMP Acting Staff Sgt. Mike Boychuk said it wasn’t a mistake based on law enforcement mentality, but instead blamed Health Canada.

“If I would have known that they’d had licences, we wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on it,” Boychuk said. “What needs to change is, I believe, a better communication system with Health Canada so that police officers are aware who has licences and who doesn’t in their own local area.”

Blue Hills RCMP led the investigation, which resulted in the raid of a commercial building in the RM of Cornwallis June 21, after being informed that there were cannabis plants being grown there.

The RCMP got a warrant, raided the building, and seized 206 plants and nearly five kilograms of dried cannabis from inside. It was only after the fact police learned Pomehichuk and his wife had valid licenses for the production and possession of cannabis.

Pomehichuk and his lawyer, Eric Wach, have said the couple was within the allowable amount of marijuana they could grow and possess.

As charges against Pomehichuk were dropped on Friday, Wach successfully asked the judge to order the return of all the seized cannabis.

However, the RCMP confirms all the plants have since been destroyed as police got the destruction order from Health Canada.

The dried cannabis remains, and presumably will be returned to Pomehichuk.

In court, Crown attorney Christina Cheater indicated Pomehichuk could seek remedy in civil court for any plants that were improperly seized and destroyed.

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