Compassion club manager acquitted of pot possession

The Atlantic Compassion Club Society store manager was granted parole after pleading guilty to possession of cannabis products for the purpose of trafficking.

After a break-in to the Main Street storefront in Dartmouth in April 2018, police were called to the compassion club. Store manager Alexander Terrio showed police video from the club’s security cameras as part of their investigation.

A series of police raids on the club followed, culminating in the seizure of three kilograms of marijuana and three kilograms of resin, which Terrio was charged with being in possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Six months later, the federal government passed the Cannabis Act, legalizing recreational use, and soon after, the Nova Scotia provincial government began selling cannabis through the NSLC.

“Although the retail location (the Compassion Club) and presentation of these illegal cannabis products has superficially given an air of legitimacy to these companies, and they claim to provide a medical service, they are still basic, no different from the conduct of a traditional large-scale commercial ‘illegal drug dealer’,” Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski wrote to explain his sentencing decision released Tuesday.

“Without any state-supervised security or related oversight, both provide a prohibited controlled substance (of an unconfirmed nature and quality, and which likely encourages other illegal activities related to the cannabis supply) to members of the public for money.”

The Crown asked for a jail term of six months or less.

The defense pointed out that Terrio was a military veteran with no criminal record, who started working at the compassion club when he was looking for a new direction in life and believed he was helping others.

Rosinski gave particular weight to multiple character references describing Terrio’s “generous and compassionate nature” and that he lives with his 78-year-old grandmother, allowing him to stay in his own home.

Rosinski concluded that a conditional discharge was in the “best interests of Terrio and not contrary to the best interests of the public”.

The 12-month parole comes with 200 hours of community service, a gun ban and forfeiture of seized marijuana.

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