Small personal amounts of drugs were decriminalized in BC, but a Kelowna cop still found a way to punish a man carrying a bag of meth in his pocket, according to a recent lawsuit filed against the RCMP.

When Dennis James Russell was pulled over in April, a Kelowna Mountie had him get out of the vehicle and a small bag of methamphetamine fell out of his pocket while the constable searched for his keys, according to Russell's suit documents.

The officer then said he's under arrest for "possession of narcotics," but later served him with a 24-hour driving prohibition when he was released the next morning.

Russell is looking to the BC Supreme Court to dismiss the prohibition after a tribunal upheld the order, according to a petition filed on Sept. 12.

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On April 29, he had several friends with him as he drove from Chilliwack to Kelowna. After they stopped for dinner in Penticton and one friend had an empty beer can, which he left in the cupholder since there was no garbage nearby at the time, he claims.

By the time he drove to Kelowna, Russell was alone and was heading through downtown along Water Street, where the area near Playtime Casino was full of pedestrians. He drove slowly and with caution to Richter Street, he said, where Const. Terrance Jimmieson pulled him over after following him through the left turn.

Russell, struggling with "excruciating" shoulder pain from a collision more than a year earlier, said he reached to the passenger side to crank the window down when Jimmieson approached, according to court documents. Jimmieson then saw the empty beer can in the cupholder and had Russell exit the vehicle.

"The officer... twisted (Russell's) wrists behind his back and placed a handcuff on his right wrist," court documents read, going on to say Jimmieson informed him he's being detained and began to search him.

He asked why he was being detained, asked "repeatedly" for a breathalyzer and a physical coordination test, but the officer didn't initially give him an answer for why he was being detained, he claims.

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"The officer refused each and every request," court documents read, regarding his request for tests to confirm whether he was intoxicated.

As Jimmieson searched Russell's pockets, he found a lighter and a set of keys. A bag with a "negligible" amount of meth fell out as Jimmieson pulled out the keys, according to court documents.

Russell said that's when he was informed that he was being arrested for possession of narcotics, and he was held in a cell overnight.

Although the province decriminalized drug possession in January, that policy is limited to 2.5 grams. Beyond describing the amount as "negligible," Russell did not say how much meth was in the bag. It's not clear whether Kelowna RCMP measured how much he was carrying. He still has not been charged.

Upon his release on the morning of April 30, he was given a 24-hour driving prohibition for driving while intoxicated.

He then returned to pick up his licence and vehicle on May 1, where he was given another 24-hour driving prohibition.

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Russell later tried to appeal the prohibition with DriveSafeBC, but it was upheld. He's now taking it to a higher court, aiming to have a judge review Jimmieson's decision for the driving prohibitions. In doing so, Russell was notified in June that there is an application to serve him with a further four-month driving prohibition.

Russell does have a lengthy record of prior criminal charges, which include drug possession.

Jimmieson is the only respondent listed in Russell's petition, but he has not filed a reply in court. Russell's petition only contains allegations and have not been tested in court.

Kelowna RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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