A Vancouver Island judge has tossed out a search warrant for a suspected marijuana grow operation, deriding the police information used to obtain the warrant as "thin gruel."
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson said in a decision released Friday that the right to be protected from unreasonable search was denied for Mario Kurtakis of Tahsis, B.C., when police scoured his property for evidence of marijuana production and trafficking.
A warrant was issued after Mounties reported smelling marijuana in the man's truck, seeing a brick of peat moss in the vehicle, hearing what sounded like an industrial fan inside the home, and receiving reports from a source that marijuana was often smelled emanating from the property.
A trial was held last month into whether that evidence amounted to reasonable grounds for searching the home, and Thompson says it did not.
The judge says the information presented in Kurtakis' case does not provide a basis "for anything more than suspicion."
He says the peat moss could have been used to grow plants other than marijuana and the sound heard inside the home could have been a air conditioning unit or fan cooling a room on a warm summer day.
Thompson also notes that the source reported smelling smoked marijuana instead of marijuana plants, saying that the smell of smoked marijuana is "hardly worthy of a mention as evidence of marijuana production."
"In my opinion an issuing justice making a decision on whether or not to issue a warrant in this marijuana production case would be making a serious error if he or she attached significant weight to the information that marijuana is often being smoked on the property," says the ruling.