UK: Cannabis Ain't A Crime
Posted 06 May 2009 - 03:24 PM
A London man has been granted leave to appeal to the High Court for permission to judicially review the decision to try him for the production of cannabis.
Medical-marijuana user Edwin Stratton claims the Government’s criminalisation of cannabis does not follow the demands of the law as stated in the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The High Court judicial review will examine the government’s application of the law, based on British legal system rules that say decisions made by public officials must be procedurally fair, lawful and rational and must include relevant factors and exclude irrelevant factors.
His appeal is based on four key issues: The unequal and discriminatory application of the law to controlled and non-controlled drug users, and the maladministration of the Misuse of Drugs Act; and the right to privacy and the protection of property rights, as guaranteed to all citizens under the Human Rights Act.
Mr Stratton, who was charged in May 2008 with production of a controlled substance for his personal cannabis plants, said the Government did not understand its own legislation. While he supports the Misuse of Drugs Act itself, he is essentially challenging the Government’s misapplication of the law, by challenging the courts’ upholding of that misapplication.
And his claims are supported by the Government’s own Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs – the statutory body required to advise on drug laws. In a paper published in The Lancet in 2007 Professor David Nutt, chair of the ACMD, said “The current classification system has evolved in an unsystematic way from somewhat arbitrary foundations with seemingly little scientific basis.”
The Misuse of Drugs Act is not a policy for prohibition, but of protection. It covers legislation “with respect to drugs which are being or appear likely to be misused and of which the misuse is having or appears capable of having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem”. And it allows for any method of control that best serves in protecting society, including healthcare, education and police intervention.
Mr Stratton says the Government is preoccupied with criminalising cannabis, while other more harmful drugs, namely alcohol and tobacco, remain legal.
And figures from both the Department of Health and Office for National Statistics back him up.
Yearly deaths attributed to tobacco average more than 100,000, alcohol averages around 60,000, while drugs (all drugs, not just cannabis) average less than 1500. When examining death certificates for causes attributed specifically to cannabis, reports state the figures are in some cases single digits, in others, zero.
Professor Nutt concurred in his Lancet paper: “The exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the Act is, from a scientific perspective, arbitrary.”
Mr Stratton said: “The (Misuse of Drugs) Act guarantees that drugs policy must be fair, even-handed and proportionate to the actual harms each drug represents according to evidence.
“The government is arbitrarily picking and choosing the people to whom it applies the law. That is wholly unlawful.”
Mr Stratton uses cannabis to alleviate his disabling coeliac condition. It relieves his pain and nausea and increases his appetite, while also enabling him to cut his prescription medication by half.
In May 2008 police entered and searched Mr Stratton’s house when a nearby fire was feared to be spreading to neighbouring properties. His personal cannabis crop was discovered, but Mr Stratton rejected a police caution, claiming that under the Human Rights Act the denial of his right to grow and possess was discriminatory, and a violation of his privacy and property rights. He was then charged with the production of a controlled drug. But when he appeared at the Waltham Forest Magistrates Court he declined to plead, and moved to quash the indictment on the basis it was an abuse of process. The magistrate agreed to adjourn proceedings and gave Mr Stratton leave to apply to the High Court for judicial review of the decision to prosecute.
“I’m calling for my prosecution to be forbidden and my indictment to be thrown out, because if the Government doesn’t consider alcohol and tobacco to be productive of social problems sufficient to warrant custody for those involved in property activities (possession) of those drugs, the Government has no cause to lock up those who possess less harmful drugs,” Mr Stratton said.
“I’m not calling for alcohol to be outlawed, but for users of less harmful drugs to be granted equal human rights to those enjoyed by users of alcohol.”
The judicial review, currently in a queue waiting to be heard, has potentially wide-reaching consequences, including setting a precedent that says cannabis criminalisation is unlawful and providing a basis for appeal on cannabis-related convictions.
“All I want is not to be tried, and to have my property and growing equipment returned,” Mr Stratton said.
“Of course, the ramifications are the important thing – if the High Court finds that I cannot be tried for growing cannabis, the floodgates may open.”
Darryl Bickler, a non-practicing solicitor and founding member of the Drug Equality Alliance, said Mr Stratton’s case and argument were strong.
“This case is unique. Frankly, I think it is perfectly timed, and entirely true, so if the courts do their stuff, then it will succeed,” he said.
The Home Office refused to comment on Mr Stratton’s judicial review, or the potential consequences it poses, until the High Court has handed down its ruling.
By Amy Freeborn
“UK420 recommends www.greenshorticulture.co.uk for all your growing needs”
Posted 06 May 2009 - 03:28 PM
Hope the judges see some sense..unlike those who make the damn laws..
TBH I was thinking that if I got raided, then I would kick up as much fuss as this guy..
Nah, they're just scared to use the same old copy and paste "killer skunk will make you rape your cat" repsponse, as they know it's false..
Edwin Stratton, you da man!
This post has been edited by TicTacToe: 06 May 2009 - 03:33 PM
Posted 06 May 2009 - 03:39 PM
I hope the Judge who is sitting on the review has the backbone to do the right thing
"All other swidlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheat myself"
DANZIG - 'I'm not going to waste the autumn of my life on fuckwits and their fuckwittery'
Posted 06 May 2009 - 03:41 PM
It would be a miracle, but here's hoping. God luck Eddie. Solid case.
Posted 06 May 2009 - 03:52 PM
'I am not prepared to mislead the public about the effects of drugs in order to convey a moral "message" on the government's behalf.' Professor David Nutt - (Ex)Chief Drugs Advisor
Posted 06 May 2009 - 03:54 PM