A Toronto mayoral candidate who leads a self-professed church where marijuana is considered a holy sacrament has been arrested in a drug bust. Officers raided a Queen Street East building in the Beaches Thursday where they say hundreds of so-called church members were able to buy drugs and smoking paraphernalia. Peter Styrsky, 49, has been charged with trafficking and running a grow operation. His wife and 21 others also face charges.
The drug bust comes about four months after members say undercover cops made a failed attempt to raid the compassion club. A video production allegedly posted by Styrsky on the website Pot-TV shows undercover Toronto police officers investigating the G13 Mission of God Assembly of the Church of the Universe in June.
Entitled “Church of the Universe Repels Satan”, the video shows Styrsky brandishing a section of the Criminal Code stating that it’s against the law to interfere with a clergyman holding a religious service and threatening to have them charged. Styrsky claims the officers then left.
Vancouver marijuana activist Marc Emery says until now Toronto police seem to have largely ignored these so-called compassion clubs where the owner has a permit from Health Canada to grow pot for medicinal reasons. But Emery is not surprised by the apparent turn of events. “They hate stuff like that, especially on video like that ? getting humiliated,” said Emery.
However, police said that while one person had a Health Canada permit to possess pot for medicinal use, he did not have authority to traffic marijuana for money. The man had more marijuana than allowed by the permit, police say.
Officers seized 4,500 grams of marijuana, 151 marijuana plants and 1,200 grams of hashish and weed oil with a combined value of $290,000. Also seized were growing equipment and drug-smoking paraphernalia. Eleven people, including Styrsky, face 193 drug-trafficking charges, and 12 others were charged with one count of possession each.
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