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Police Arrest Another Holy Smoke Owner

By Hempology | August 20, 2006

holysmoke.gif Fri. Aug 18/06
MARIJUANA CLAMPDOWN: Alan Middlemiss voluntarily disrobes during arrest; pot advocate says culture shop crew looking forward to day in court.

Holy Smoke Culture Shop co-owner Alan Middlemiss was arrested at the Nelson City Police ( NCP ) Detachment Wednesday night, a month after business partner Paul DeFelice was busted and the store raided as part of a wider police investigation on the alleged drug trade in Nelson.

Middlemiss was charged with two counts of trafficking in a controlled substance on July 13.  He said he went to the police station to check on his legal status when he was told that he had a warrant for his arrest.

“I was downtown Nelson last night and my spider sense was tingling that I should check into the Nelson City Police to see what my status was,” said Middlemiss.

Middlemiss was asked to return an hour later to talk with Nelson City Police Detective Paul Burkart.  Middlemiss returned and voluntarily disrobed when he was arrested.

“It’s standard practice to do an anal cavity strip search on a person caught for minor marijuana charges so basically the first thing I did was I’m standing there, he said you’re under arrest so I took off all my clothes which is almost a self-defense mechanism,” said Middlemiss, who called anal cavity searches a “militarized authoritarian fear tactic.”

He added that he disrobed because he wanted to cut off the police at the pass.

‘ We’ll strike down the cannabis laws right in the Nelson courthouse’

“It’s a tradition in non-violent protest stemming from teachers like Jack Ross and the Doukhobors.  It’s called ritual disrobing.  It’s a way of nonviolently proving that you’re disarmed.”

Burkart said anal cavity searches are performed in certain circumstances, but in his 11-and-a-half year policing career, he has never performed one.  He said such a search was not required in this circumstance.

“I believe they do that in prison on occasion when they have very strong grounds.  That’s probably the most invasive search.  In my career, I’ve never done one,” he said, adding that it was unusual that Middlemiss knew about the arrest warrant.

Although he is permitted to go to Holy Smoke as long as there are no other employees or cannabis in the vicinity, Middlemiss said he was given a set of “very ridiculous” conditions including not having any contact or communication with four of his best friends and Holy Smoke employees including DeFelice.

According to Middlemiss, he is also not permitted to use cannabis in any form or to be near any place or vehicle where there might be cannabis, its derivatives, or extracts.

While Middlemiss believes this effectively bars him from B.C., Detective Burkart, who arrested Middlemiss, said that is not the case.

“One of the things about possession is that you have to have knowledge.  So if you had no knowledge of the drugs then there would be no charge obviously.  That was explained to him last night and he knew it,” said Burkart.

Burkart explained that the conditions are set based on police dealings with the individual and in consultation with a federal crown prosecutor.  Burkart said it would have been surprising if DeFelice and Middlemiss had different conditions if they were arrested on the same day and added that things change and the conditions change based on lawyers getting involved.

Burkart explained that the wider investigation is ongoing and other arrest warrants may be issued.

“There may be further warrants upcoming.” said Burkart, adding that the investigation is not focussed solely on Holy Smoke.  “We’ve made [other] arrests.  Obviously they [Holy Smoke owners] make them more public so that’s what makes it look that way, but certainly there has been other people [arrested] as well that aren’t connected to Holy Smoke.”

MIddlemiss signed a promise to appear in court in Nelson on November 7.  He believes the conditions can be varied on Tuesday at the earliest.

“We are building more resistance.  This is just the beginning and we’re looking forward to our day in court and we feel that we are going to have a victory and possibly if everything goes well, we’ll strike down the cannabis laws right in the Nelson courthouse for all Canadians…,” said Middlemiss. 

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