Operator of Winnipeg magic mushroom shop given house arrest sentence

One of the operators of an illegal magic mushroom shop that popped up in Osborne Village last year will serve nine months of house arrest for her role in the operation.

Hosnia Qazi, a real estate agent from Ottawa, was in court Wednesday for sentencing after she was arrested and charged in May 2023 for possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

The court heard the Winnipeg Police Service started investigating the shop, Magic Mush, on May 18, 2023, and on two separate occasions, undercover officers went to the store to buy products.

“In each occurrence, the staff did not request any identification or offer any advice or explanation related to the product they were selling,” said Crown attorney Dan Manning while reading a statement of the facts.

Manning also told the court that during the second undercover interaction, one officer asked Qazi, who was working behind the counter, if his girlfriend with anxiety should get the mushrooms and if a prescription was needed.

“We don’t take any prescriptions as we’ve just opened up, and we’re trying to gauge the temperature of police right now,” Manning said the officer was told at the time.

Manning noted the business was entirely for-profit, and even though it claimed to offer different strains, it was actually all the same.

On May 19, police executed a search warrant at the business and also at Qazi’s home. Officers found 39 13-gram mushroom baggies at the store, along with other loose mushroom products, and more than $3,000 in cash.

At Qazi’s home, officers found more mushroom products and more than $12,000 in cash.

Qazi was operating the business with her then-boyfriend Damien Hiebert. Her lawyer, Jack Lloyd, told court her relationship with Hiebert was abusive and that she was being dragged along by a “bad boyfriend.”

Hiebert died shortly after being arrested from a fentanyl overdose, the court heard.

Lloyd also told the court police were willing to give Qazi and Hiebert a warning to shut down the store. However, after their previous lawyer Jamie Kagan told media that they would reopen if police raided, the police’s hands were tied.

In a previous interview with CTV News Winnipeg, Kagan said the store was there so people had an “opportunity to make an informed decision,” and wanted the police to, “get behind us and realize how good of an impact we’re making on the community. We’re on the same team.”

Lloyd told the court that Kagan’s continued comments to the media were “bizarre.”

Before handing down his sentencing, Judge Sam Raposo heard from Lloyd that Qazi had no interest in continuing “any further dalliance,” and that she was extremely sorry for her role.

Raposo said it was a brazen flouting of the law, and “the drug had no safeguards.”

“Your actions, that included selling this illegal drug, contributed to preying on persons who are dependent on drugs,” Raposo said.

He also noted Qazi received “horrible advice” from Kagan on operating the business.

Qazi was given a nine-month conditional sentence, and it will be served under house arrest.


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