Matter dropped after Crown said lead investigator was no longer available
A Cape Breton man waited nearly two years to argue for what he says is his right to sell cannabis on reserve lands.
But just as Albert Marshall Jr.’s trial got underway on Monday in Eskasoni First Nation, N.S., it came to a halt.
Marshall had been accused of operating a cannabis storefront in Eskasoni without a licence. The offence falls under Nova Scotia’s Cannabis Control Act.
The matter was dismissed by a judge after the Crown said its lead investigator is no longer available.
A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service said there was no realistic prospect of conviction after a review of remaining evidence.
“I’m kind of upset about it because I would have liked to have gone all the way to the end of it — right to the Supreme Court — to justify our inherent right to trade medicine, to trade plants,” Marshall said.
Marshall said part of his legal argument was the fact that Indigenous people have been trading medicinal plants for centuries.
Robert Risk, his lawyer, said while the outcome of the trial was somewhat of a victory for Marshall, there was no ruling as to whether Indigenous people have inherent rights to sell cannabis legally on reserve.
Marshall could have faced a fine of $10,000 to $20,000 if convicted.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t set any precedent that establishes the Indigenous right to trade or sell cannabis,” Risk said.
“The trial didn’t proceed far enough where we would have any precedential value to either Mr. Marshall himself going forward in operating such an establishment, or to others that might wish to do the same.”
That means Marshall and others could find themselves in legal trouble should they continue to sell cannabis.