Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Arrested for legal pot, man claims

Has medical-marijuana licence, but busted by RCMP

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Thaddeus Conrad  shows his medical-marijuana permit and a supply of his pot. Despite his allegedly harsh treatment, he says he would accept an apology and feels the officers are simply ignorant about medical-marijuana laws.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Thaddeus Conrad shows his medical-marijuana permit and a supply of his pot. Despite his allegedly harsh treatment, he says he would accept an apology and feels the officers are simply ignorant about medical-marijuana laws. Photo Store

Thaddeus Conrad was holding almost a kilogram of marijuana and $700 in cash when RCMP officers pulled over his minivan Saturday just west of Steinbach.

The 32-year-old claims he was also holding a licence to possess medical marijuana -- and notified the officers of that fact -- but he says that didn't stop them from arresting him, throwing him to the highway and aggravating an existing spinal-cord injury.

Conrad was travelling west on Highway 52 early Saturday evening when RCMP pulled him over for a busted headlight. According to Conrad, an officer walked to his driver-side window and asked for his licence. Conrad obliged.

"I was just minding my business," he told the Free Press Sunday.

After checking the licence, the two officers returned and asked Conrad to get out of the 2000 Honda minivan, he said.

'It was very traumatic. You aren't supposed to treat people like animals. You treat them with respect'

-- Thaddeus Conrad on his treatment by police

"They grabbed me by the neck and threw me down on the concrete," Conrad said. "They put their knees on my back. They told me to stop resisting. I wasn't resisting."

At the time, Conrad said the police only told him he was being arrested for "a controlled substance."

"They probably smelled it," he said. "I smoke marijuana in my van in the nighttime because I don't like to smoke in my house."

Conrad said he hadn't smoked any pot previously that day and later passed a field intoxication test "with flying colours."

Conrad claims his licence, issued by Health Canada, allows him to carry close to 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana (about 1.13 kilograms). He is also allowed to grow his own pot at his home in Sundown, about 136 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg.

Conrad said he was held in custody in the St-Pierre Jolys RCMP station. Police confiscated the marijuana, $700 in cash, two cellphones and items from a non-profit organization, Med-Man Brand, dedicated to helping users of medical marijuana deal with pain management.

Calls to the St-Pierre Jolys RCMP detachment went unanswered Sunday. A provincial RCMP spokesman could not be reached Sunday night.

"I was very appalled and shocked that I was treated like a gangster and like a criminal," Conrad said. "It was very traumatic. You aren't supposed to treat people like animals. You treat them with respect.

"This is really, really ridiculous to be treated this way when I'm in full compliance with my licence. They totally profiled me. It's illegal and unlawful."

Conrad said he suffered spinal-cord and brain trauma in 2006 after falling off a scaffold working as a stonemason. That incident led to treatment with medical marijuana.

Conrad said he was charged with marijuana possession, possession for the purpose of trafficking, resisting arrest and possession of proceeds of crime. He has a summons to appear in provincial court on Aug. 27.

Conrad believes the RCMP officers' ignorance of the medical-marijuana laws might have resulted in the arrest. He said a similar situation occurred a few years ago in British Columbia. The charges were later dropped, Conrad claimed.

The police should have verified his medical-marijuana licence, asked to weigh the marijuana in the van, then let him go. "That's the procedure they're supposed to follow," Conrad said.

Conrad wants a written letter of apology from the two officers who made the arrest and the return of his cash, marijuana and possessions.

"I'll be compassionate -- they don't know what they're doing," he said. "But the abuse of power and the way I was treated was unacceptable."

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 10, 2013 A3

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