VERNON - When authorities raided an Enderby business and lodging house last week, they noticed a horrible smell from a weird substance growing in a jar and called in the RCMP's drug lab unit from Vancouver—complete with full-body suits and gas masks.
But your average health nut might have immediately recognized it as a home-made health supplement called Kombucha.
Ben Fulton, property manager and resident of the Gypsy Bazaar, says the amber-coloured liquid contained in the jars at the centre of last week’s police investigation was a fermented drink made of tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. Sometimes called mushroom tea for the gelatinous-looking glob floating atop the liquid, the drink is taken to combat cancer, arthritis, and a host of other ailments.
“It’s a medicinal drink that’s thousands of years old,” Fulton says. “Several corporations even have cans you can get at the grocery store.”
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He says while the substance may look a little bizarre to the untrained eye, it’s completely legal. He doesn’t anticipate any criminal charges will come from what he calls a bogus police investigation started by local officials wanting to find “any excuse to condemn the building.”
“I feel like it was basically just a plan because they were hoping to find something illegal, and now that they haven’t there’s really no apologies forthcoming,” Fulton says.
RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk says the lab team removed equipment and chemicals that will be sent to Health Canada for analysis.
“(We) don’t know what we’re dealing with, so we bring in our specialized team who works with that and Health Canada will determine what it is in the end and whether or not applicable charges should be laid,” Molendyk says.
Fulton says tenants have until Mar. 1 to remove all their possessions from the building. One family was put up in a local hotel, but others are sleeping in homeless shelters, and in some cases, under bridges, Fulton says.
“When they shut us down, there’s basically no place for these people to go,” Fulton says.
A number of building codes are currently not being met, and Fulton says the plan is to put the building up for sale sometime in the near future.
Lab investigators removed several jars of an amber coloured liquid from the basement of the Gypsy Bazaar.
(CHARLOTTE HELSTON /InfoTel Multimedia)
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