When Anna Minten and her husband Emmanuel Levesque Dupere took part in the annual Garden & Art Tour last month, they had no idea it would eventually lead to a RCMP raid.
The couple returned home from date night on Aug 2 to find all the lights on in at home on Farrell Rd. The lock on the shed was broken and their dog tied up.
Taped to a stool inside the house, the RCMP had left a search warrant. The warrant said the officers were looking for cannabis plants that were “visible from [a] public place.”
The couple’s tenants said five RCMP officers searched the home for hours, including the tenant’s suite. The couple’s three cannabis plants, which they kept in their garden, were gone.
“They went everywhere. I feel violated,” said Minten.
“I feel hurt and mistreated. Their actions were unjustified.”
On July 28, the couple took part in the seventh annual Garden & Art Tour, a self-guided event that pairs gardens with local artists and raises money for the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative, a non-profit that aims to enhance local food production.
|Minten said gardening is one of her passions and she loves to experiment. Here, she is trying to grow chickpeas. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
A news release from the Revelstoke RCMP said an off duty officer went with his family on the Garden & Art tour. During the event, he spotted three cannabis plants in Minten’s garden.
According to the search warrant, the officer was Cst. Faron Ling.
“As the tour progressed participants were exposed to blatant violations of Section (g) Cannabis Control and Licensing Art; non-medical Cannabis Plants growing in full view of the public,” states the release.
According to the the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, adults are allowed to grow no more than four cannabis plants per dwelling house.
Minten said she had no idea they were breaking any laws.
|The yard on the quiet, dead end road, has rows and rows of plants and vegetables. In the back, beside the shed, grew the three cannabis plants. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
However, the law dictates that the plants cannot be visible from a place described as being “public”, which means “any place to which the public has access as of right or by invitation, express or implied, whether or not a fee is charged for entry” or “in any outdoor place open to public view”.
The cannabis plants were located beside the house next to a fence, roughly 50 metres from the street.
Minten said she did want people on the tour to notice the cannabis plants. When the plants were gifted to Minten, they were almost dead. Regardless, she managed to bring them back to life.
“I have a green thumb.”
The release continued that as a result of the “observations made during the public tour”, a search warrant was executed by a judge in Burnaby. The RCMP seized the plants and “other items to support charges”.
Minten said she doesn’t know what else the RCMP took.
|The three cannabis plants. (Anne Minten’s Facebook)|
|After the police raid on Aug. 2. (Anne Minten’s Facebook)|
“Maybe some fertilizer?”
The couple said they have not had contact with the RCMP since the incident. As of Aug. 7, the two have not been charged. According to the RCMP news release, the file remains under investigation.
“The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act was created to ensure the production, possession and distribution of cannabis would be done in a safe and controlled manner. Unfortunately, the violations of CCLA by some of our residents has brought some negative light to Revelstoke and the Garden and Art tour,” said Cpl. Mike Esson of the Revelstoke RCMP in the news release.
“By not properly growing cannabis plants, the residents have opened themselves up to the possibility of theft of the cannabis and drugs falling into the hands of youth in our community,” Cpl. Esson continued.
While Minten said she is now aware they broke the law, she questions the RCMP’s response.
“To what degree are they attacking their citizens?”
The RCMP could have just told her, said Minten and not “come in with guns blazing”.
Multiple people have reacted to the incident on social media and the internet. Before noon on Aug. 7, there were already 12 posts on thestoke.ca, questioning the RCMP’s response.
“The police should be enforcing traffic laws on the highway instead of wasting thousands of dollars on a few pot plants,”reads one of the posts. Others took to Twitter, including well-known cannabis advocate Dana Larsen.
No other province has a law saying your 4 legal cannabis plants must be hidden from public view.
This rule about hiding your plants is only here in BC.
The BC NDP need to fix their Cannabis Control & Licensing Act. It's full of unnecessary punishments and restrictions.
— Dana Larsen (@DanaLarsen) August 7, 2019
As the cannabis laws are new, Minten said, they’re unclear.
“Are they [the laws] to monitor and watch people or a way for people to provide medicine?”
Minten continued she has lost faith in her local RCMP.
“Who do I call now to feel protected?”
|The couple have participated in the Garden & Art Tour multiple times. Minten is an avid gardener and “has a lot of joy from it”. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
This is not the first time Minten participated in Garden & Art Tour, however it will be the last. She said other Revelstoke residents, who took part in the tour have reached out to her, wondering if their house is next.
In an email to Black Press the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative wrote they are “seeking more information from government with regards to the Cannabis Act, so we can help to better educate the public.”
After hearing of what happened to the couple, a local legal advisor reached out to represent them.
“I’m a warrior, but not a fighter,” said Minten.
“I want this topic to be better understood. I want to bring peace.”
Minten said numerous people from the community have asked if she would like three new cannabis plants to replace the ones she lost.
“The support from the community has been a blessing.”