Mission marijuana dispensary owner wins appeal against trafficking convictions

It’s taken over three years, but Bob Woolsey has finally had his five marijuana-trafficking convictions stricken from his record.

The senior citizen was arrested by the Mission RCMP in 2015, after he sold pot to undercover police officers out of his medical marijuana dispensary in Deroche. He was sentenced in April, 2018, to time served and given a $250 fine for each of the five counts.

At the time of his conviction, he called the charges “frivolous.” Less than a year later, marijuana would be legalized.

Woolsey represented himself during the original trial, on his first appeal attempt last June, and again on his second attempt on Nov. 23.

This time around, he argued the trial judge failed to consider his submission that a conditional discharge would be the most appropriate sentence. A conditional discharge would mean the sentences would not come with a criminal record.

“Respectfully, I have concluded that the judge did commit a material error,” said Justice Patrice Abrioux, noting it was incumbent on the judge to weigh whether that sentence would be contrary to the public interest.

“It is not necessary to enter convictions against him in order to deter him from future offences or to rehabilitate him. Furthermore, entry of convictions may well have significant adverse repercussions.”

In the past year, Woolsey submitted that he had been trying to form “compassion clubs” and similar organizations in Jamaica, and the convictions would bar him from travel outside of Canada.

Abrioux also noted that the original trial judge was “perplexed” in finding an appropriate sentence due to Canada’s changing cannabis laws, the claimed local tolerance of medical marijuana dispensaries, and that Woolsey was not attempting to sell outside of his dispensary.

“I honestly cannot remember the last time, other than this case, that I have seen a marijuana-related offence prosecuted because of the transition that is going on,” the original trial judge is quoted as saying.

Woolsey has been given a six-month probationary period with his conditional discharge.