British Columbia (Director of Civil Forfeiture) v. Kazan, 2013 BCSC 388 – Accused Disbelieved and Forfeiture Ordered

The Defendant, Ali Kazan, admitted that an 80-plant marijuana grow op had been located on the upper floor of his home, but argued that it was disproportionate and clearly not in the interests of justice to order forfeiture of his home on this basis. He also claimed that he had no knowledge of a sophisticated marijuana processing operation located in the two-bedroom basement suite of the same house, where police had seized some 41 kilograms of marijuana after obtaining a search warrant.

Mr. Justice Pearlman of the BC Supreme Court found that Mr. Kazan’s testimony was not credible and that he must have had knowledge of the marijuana processing operation in his basement, which was in fact operated by two individuals who he admitted were his friends.

Based on these conclusions, Justice Pearlman found that the interests of justice did not require relief from full forfeiture and that the Defendant’s equity in the property (valued at approximately $50,000) should be transferred to the Crown:

“[118] In considering the interests of justice, and whether full forfeiture would be disproportionate or unfair, I bear in mind that the defendant not only used the 74th Avenue Property for a marijuana grow operation, but also was aware of and permitted the use of the two-bedroom basement suite to store and process stolen marijuana. Here, there is evidence of gang activity associated with the 74th Avenue Property.

[119] On weighing all of the factors I have discussed, I find that the unlawful activity conducted in the two-bedroom basement suite with the defendant’s knowledge tips the scales in favour of full forfeiture in this case.”

Interestingly, the reasons for judgement suggest that were it not for the Defendant’s knowledge of the criminal activity downstairs, the court would have granted some relief from forfeiture based on the interests of justice. This case does not answer the question of whether a single, small-scale grow op is sufficient to warrant full forfeiture of a home.

Decided by the BC Supreme Court on March 12, 2013.
Click here for the full text of the decision.

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