Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 29, 2014 - 3:12 pm

Nunavut court: Igloolik man guilty in panda bear weed bust

Man staying at Baffin Larga in 2010 given drug shipment for Igloolik

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Police found these drugs inside a stuffed panda bear, Dec. 9, 2010 at the Iqaluit airport. (RCMP HANDOUT PHOTO)
Police found these drugs inside a stuffed panda bear, Dec. 9, 2010 at the Iqaluit airport. (RCMP HANDOUT PHOTO)

An Igloolik man — arrested Dec. 9, 2010 after police caught him at the Iqaluit airport with more than 1.6 kilograms of marijuana sewn into a stuffed panda bear — knew exactly what he was doing and is guilty of possession for the purpose of trafficking, Justice Earl Johnson found in a written judgment released Aug. 28.

Stephen Qrunngnut, now 50, of Igloolik, had been staying at the Baffin Larga patient home in Ottawa with his daughter, then eight years old.

A non-Inuk man known only as “Shawn” asked Qrunngnut to carry a bag back to Igloolik that turned out to contain a large panda bear stuffed with five vacuum packed bags containing 1,649 grams of marijuana, Johnson’s judgment said.

Shawn asked the Igloolik man to deliver the bag to Silas Kadlutsiak in Igoolik, and gave him five joints and $200 for performing the service, Johnson’s judgment said.

Qrunngnut checked the suitcase under his daughter’s boarding pass, and the father and daughter boarded a plane bound for Iqaluit.

But, tipped off by an anonymous informant, police detained Qrunngnut at the Iqaluit airport after the first leg of his trip.

There, police found the stuffed panda bear, tore it open, and found the drugs inside.

That search gave rise to a lengthy voir dire hearing in January 2013, at which defence lawyer Mark Christie argued that the police violated Qrunngnut’s Charter rights to be free from arbitrary detention and search.

But Johnson ruled that the drug evidence is admissible, even with the RCMP’s Charter breaches.

“I am satisfied that the exclusion of this evidence would exact a heavy toll on the reputation of the administration of justice in Nunavut and would thwart the efforts to keep drug dealers and their couriers off the streets of Nunavut,” Johnson said June 14, 2013, in his voir dire judgment.

He also cited a big study on suicide in Nunavut,  Learning From Lives That Have Been Lived, by Dr. Eduardo Chachamovich and Monica Tomlinson.

That study found cannabis abuse is a major risk factor for suicide in Nunavut.

He also said cannabis abuse is a “big social problem in Nunavut” and that “many people who live in poverty and cannot afford it are spending money on this drug instead of providing the necessities of life to their families.”

In the trial that followed, the man’s defence lawyer argued that Qrunngnut did not know the bag contained marijuana, and that he should be found not guilty.

But Johnson said that the Igloolik man was willfully blind about the contents of the bag that Shawn gave him and found him guilty.

His judgment also said the man named “Shawn” had been giving bags purportedly containing “toys and candies” to people at the airport for at least 10 years and that Qrunngnut knew these were drug shipments.

Qrunngnut has yet to be sentenced.

  2014 NUCJ 22 RvQrunngnut

 

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(26) Comments:

#1. Posted by Maniq on August 29, 2014

The evidence should have been thrown out. He is a petty mule and a conviction does nothing to thwart further drug crimes in Nunavut.

What we do need is cops who follow protocol and demonstrate awareness and respect for individual charter rights and freedoms.

#2. Posted by tundrabadger on August 29, 2014

That may be the greatest headline ever written.

#3. Posted by DRUG DEALERS !! on August 29, 2014

A PETTY MULE.
HE PROBABLY KNEW THAT THE PERSON WHO ASKED HIM TO TAKE A BAG TO HIS TOWN WAS A KNOWN DRUG DEALER.
HE PROBABLY BROUGHT DRUGS OFF OF THIS MAN IN THE PAST.
HE KNEW WHAT HE WAS PUTTING HIS DAUGHTER AND HIMSELF INTO.
A PETTY MULE!!
WITH THE COST OF MARIJUANA (50$ GRAM)THAT MEANS THE DEALER COULD OF MADE 82,450$.
AND IF THE DRUG DEALER WANTED TO MAKE MORE OF A PROFIT, HE COULD HAVE SOLD THE MARIJUANA AT .6 OR .7 OF A GRAM AND COULD HAVE MADE 140,000$ EASILY.
THE DRUG DEALERS OF NUNAVUT AND NUNAVIK ARE MAKING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS PER YEAR AND SENDING THE MONEY TO SOUTHERN CITIES.GROW UP INUIT OF NUNAVUT AND NUNAVIK. STOP ABUSING DRUGS.

#4. Posted by End prohibition now on August 29, 2014

“many people who live in poverty and cannot afford it are spending money on this drug instead of providing the necessities of life to their families.”

I agree, to solve this problem cannabis should be legalized (and will be legalized). The price through a medical marijuana dispensary right now runs as low as $5 a gram. How much does it cost through a dealer here, $50?

Also, the claim that there is a link between cannabis use and suicide is misleading. It’s true that people who use cannabis are often self medicating, as are some drinkers (in other words they are at risk already). But this does not mean that cannabis causes depression and suicide. In fact in low doses have been shown to increase serotonin in the brain.

It’s a shame we are still vilifying a plant that is far less dangerous and has far more potential benefits to us than alcohol.

#5. Posted by PW on August 29, 2014

#2, I agree with you 100%, it provoked thoughts of an Igloolik man buyin weed from a Panda, guess they are into more than bamboo

#6. Posted by andre airut on August 30, 2014

shut you low lifes theirs no jobs in igloolik or any where elese in Nunavut dum fuckers

#7. Posted by YAK ATTACK on August 30, 2014

Without WEED!!! THERE WILL BE RIOTING, WE NEED OUR WEED!!!!

#8. Posted by Nunavimiuk on August 31, 2014

I wonder , if you can order on line from Colorado or Washington .

#9. Posted by PW on August 31, 2014

I am surprised the term “willfully blind” has not confused a bunch of people… #8, no not yet, but if Justin gets elected in, soon

#10. Posted by Kapow on August 31, 2014

If you need weed that much you have a serious addiction problem, would be in your best interest to seek help on the deep issues you have instead of trying to hide it in smoke. But then again dope heads are in deep denial and the hardest ones to help.
Just say no kids or you will end up like these guys.

#11. Posted by Bob the Bonobo on August 31, 2014

#10 thankfully marijuana is less addictive than nicotine or alcohol.

#12. Posted by Legalize ASAP on September 01, 2014

Same amount 1.6 kilos or 56 ounces @ $250 per ounce would be worth approx. $14K if purchased most large cities in Canada.  However Nunavut residents do not have same access so end up paying $50 @ gram, the 1.6 kilos selling for almost $80K.  This is why Nunavummiat go broke just to enjoy a smoke.

Legalization is the way to go and will eventually happen as soon as the Harper government gets thrown out.

And what #4 says is correct, MJ is not a cause for suicide, but rather people who are depressed or suicidal may turn to pot as a way to self medicate.  Much better than alcohol.

Better maybe to use no substances at all - alcohol, pot, caffeine, sugar, tobacco.  But pot least harmful of all of these.

#13. Posted by Wrong! on September 01, 2014

Wow it sure shows how ignorant people are about weed not being addictive.  You should stop and read all the medical and scientific evidence before you make these kind of statements. You sound silly when you don’t know what you are talking about.
Why do you think parents are spending money on it instead of feeding their kids?
Why do you think people are being evicted for not paying their rent but have joints regularly?
Why do you think people are selling things they need, just to buy some?
Why do you think young kids are selling it to adults, who should know better, on the steps of stores?

Because it is addictive and they are all addicted!

Sad to say, the Montreal Mafia is using us as “real suckers” in Nunavut, sending it up here.
           
This is the same group that kills people, traffics women and steals money - and everyone is buying from them?

We must be crazy if we haven’t figured that out yet. We are helping crime grow with every puff of that crap

#14. Posted by Potluck on September 02, 2014

Legalize already!!! Elect whats his name there n throw Harper away who is a joke!! This coming from a guy who never voted in his life! I would rather be sitting beside a pothead then a drunk. PH never passes out on ur shoulder, never rapes anyone, never pisses or pukes here or there,ETC. Heck marijuana is a natural plant which makes the southern gangs rich n drunk. Why not make meat iligal also since the animals it comes from has to be slaughtered n killed for it to be sold. A MJ plant just have to pull the buds off with nothing killed!!! There u go Justin use my post!! Hehe i need to burn another plant n then eat a steak that someone shocked to death!!

#15. Posted by Pot Cookie on September 02, 2014

#13 I’ve done a bit of research on marijuana and its addictive properties are very mild, only about 9% of users will become addicted, far less than the 32% of tobacco users and 15% of alcohol users who become addicted to those substances.

Parents are spending on it because they are self medicating. If it wasn’t with marijuana it would be alcohol or another substance. Marijuana, at least, has therapeutic properties and is non-toxic, making it safer than most prescription drugs.

Also, if marijuana was legal and accessible the price would go way down. Use might also go down, as it has among teens in Colorado.

If you’re worried about money going to organized crime you should join us who want it legalized, that alone will do huge damage to their profits and might even get them out of the game altogether.

#16. Posted by Medicine Man on September 02, 2014

#15 the word ‘addicted’ is a being a bit misused in this context. People can become psychologically dependant on Marijuana but it is not physically addictive.

#17. Posted by Bob on September 02, 2014

@#15- Wikipedia doesn’t count as research, Google doesn’t count as research, and statistics, especially from the study of social sciences like addiction, can always be skewed to reflect whatever agenda you are trying to peddle.
Unless you have written a paper, and I’m sorry if you have, reading up on a few things doesn’t count as a little bit of “research”.

#18. Posted by annoying drugs on September 02, 2014

i cant stand drugs and never will, look what it does to “most” inuit men make them go crazy when they dont have it for so long, especially to some men, treat their wifes/girlfriends like crap because they arent stoned, start abusing/accusing, who knows what else. sad but true ive seen it all and lived with it myself.

#19. Posted by stop the denial on September 02, 2014

In denial, we make excuses to make wrong; right. It takes one to change the thinking. No one can do it for you, you will one day stop denying you have a problem.

it is the people who abuse the drug that makes it look so bad even for #18 to even the consider the benefits of the drug. It also takes self discipline to control your intake but that is what a lot of people who are addicted don’t have.

It destroys lives, makes children hungry, also breaks up relationships even makes you depressed. I have been there, seen it and i’m glad to have passed that. I still see the trouble it can make with our kids, then they take it to school, the trouble with bullying etc.

#20. Posted by ..... on September 02, 2014

you just gotta learn how to control your addictions, dont let your addiction control you… buy your family enough food that will last for two weeks, pay your bills… whatever you have left can be drug money… budget yourself…. SELF CONTROL PEOPLE…. if guys are abusing spouses or family members…. they need help

#21. Posted by For your reference on September 02, 2014

#17 The source for the information provided in post #15 comes from work done by the US Department of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2009).DASIS Series: S-45, DHHS Publication No. SMA 09–4360. Rockville, MD, 2008

#19 - Of course marijuana can be abused, so can alcohol, prescription drugs, you name it. The problem is not the substance itself it is the prediliction for addictive and self abusive behaviours on the part of those who consume too much. I agree it takes self discipline to control ones intake, the same can be said for many things in life.

But, we are adults, and should have the freedom to chose. Especially in the case of a natural substance that has proven medical benefits and is a far healthier than other available options.

#22. Posted by I have my reasons on September 02, 2014

I have my reasons too, I grew with migraines that I stayed home for days and missed school and work because of that, when I discovered marijuana when i was 22 years old, i got hooked because my migraines became less then when i was growing up and my prescriptions became less for the government’s burden bill, all my life i had migraines. but this new medicine i discovered wasn’t covered by anybody else except my income and if someone had it, a friend with weed is a friend indeed, which can cause a child to go hungry, to miss opportunities that other children have, yes we are adults, man up, woman up and chose to be smart about taking it. Those many things in life are not in our systems for days, weeks, months and if your body stop having it, it craves for it, and people get grumpy and mean. I don’t see why anyones choice should effect the children. it also takes prevention and self care so that we won’t need medical care and be healthier.

#23. Posted by Pot Cookie on September 02, 2014

If the government has agreed to allow marijuana’s use for medical, and presumably therapeutic, reasons then why shouldn’t individuals be allowed to consume it as a preventative?

#24. Posted by Witheld on September 02, 2014

On top of that a lot of users and sellers are welfare cases, given low rent housing for 60 dollars a month.  Too stoned to work or take care of themselves let alone a 2 bedroom home.  Seen two units burn down this year alone, cost in the hundreds of thousands to the people.  Because they are too lazy to turn off the blades on the element.

#25. Posted by ... on September 03, 2014

i wonder why the housing association wont do anything about the dealers, in manitoba its against the law to sell drugs in their apartments. and once they get caught they get kicked out. they should start doing that in nunavut because its so hard for some people to get a place. its getting too much, plus paying $60 a month and making so much money off drugs. anyway dirty money that dont last long

#26. Posted by Any one willing to answer? on September 04, 2014

instead of making a huge comment just a couple questions..
how many stories have u heard of people dying from alcohol comsumption?
how many stories have u heard of people dying from cigarettes.?
and how many stories have u heard of people dying for smoking weed?..... I think ive made a point…

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