Grandmother Arrested In Drug Raid

Velma Mullaney, a grandmother in her sixties, could not believe her eyes.  It was shortly after 9 a.m.  and as many as 10 police officers and several police cars were outside her home near Castlegar, B.C.

The police told her that they believed she was operating an illegal indoor marijuana-growing operation on her 3-1/2 acre property, Ms.  Mullaney said Thursday in an interview.

She said she had a licence to grow 98 marijuana plants for medical purposes for herself and her partner.  The plants were in pots in two rooms at the back of a workshop on the property that her grandson used for his welding business.

At first she thought the officers would just count the plants and leave.  But the police refused to listen to her, she said.  “I told them we had permits to grow.  The officer just started yelling, ‘No, we did not.  We had way too many plants and I was going to jail,’ ”

Police cut down the plants and tore out the lights, fans and thermostats.  “They basically wrecked everything,” Ms.  Mullaney said.  “What they didn’t take, they smashed.”

RCMP Corporal Debbie Postnikoff later confirmed that police came to Ms.  Mullaney’s home, but provided a dramatically different account of events.

Police came to the house at 9:55 a.m.  on Feb.  24 with a search warrant, Cpl.  Postnikoff said.  Based on evidence, police believed that Ms.  Mullaney was not in compliance with her permit to grow marijuana.

Police dismantled the grow operation as the number of plants exceeded what was authorized under the licence, Cpl.  Postnikoff said.  She declined to provide any details about the number of plants on the property or what was seized during the raid.

They found her eighteen-year-old grandson, Michael Millard, in the workshop, Cpl.  Postnikoff said.  He did not have a licence to grow the marijuana and was not authorized to maintain the plants.  Police found him “tending to the grow operation” and arrested him.

Ms.  Mullaney said her grandson had gone to the workshop to shut off the welding machinery when he saw the police.  “[The police] kicked the doors in and put a gun to his head.  They had him on the ground, on the floor, and handcuffed him.” His girlfriend was also arrested.

“Instead of checking to see if we really have too many plants, they just went ahead and did what they did,” Ms.  Mullaney said.  “It was ridiculous.  Everyone was just standing there and it would have only taken minutes to count them all.”

Ms.  Mullaney said she has arthritis and she uses marijuana to help her relax at night.  “Otherwise you are really, really uncomfortable, finding a way to get comfortable.” Her partner uses marijuana to control pain caused by a bad back, she said.

Health Canada issued her a licence for medicinal marijuana on Oct.  10, 2009.

Ms.  Mullaney was arrested for cultivating marijuana and trafficking.  RCMP are now consulting with federal Crown prosecutors about the charges that will be laid.

Ms.  Mullaney is also facing charges of cultivation of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking as a result of a raid two years ago.  She and her former husband, Lyall Mullaney, were arrested on Jan.  8, 2009, after police seized 1,200 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.  A search of the home turned up prepackaged marijuana and some cash, a RCMP news release from 2009 states.  Their trial is scheduled to begin later this spring.

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