A judge in British Columbia has given an absolute discharge to a man charged with trafficking cannabis after police raided his home and found 414 cannabis plants, around half of which were seedlings.
The man, Michael Santos – an audio engineer with no criminal record – pleaded guilty to possessing around 6.5 pounds of cannabis for distribution
Provincial Court Judge Joanne Challenger was told that Santos used the cannabis for medical purposes, despite never seeking an official medical exemption to grow the plant. Santos asked the judge to not make his medical condition public record, which the judge agreed to, sealing a letter that explained his expectation to develop a life-threatening genetic disease, given his family history.
“Given what Mr. Santos knows about the disease he is predisposed to and the effect it has had on his family, I accept that his medical use was and is sincere,” Judge Challenger said in a written judgment. “Even if the only benefit the use of marijuana actually provides is hope, the emotional and, in turn, physical benefits could well be medically significant.”
Santos told the court that he did not seek an exemption because the application process is “cumbersome”, and he was concerned about the consequences of admitting to the government that he uses cannabis.
Counsel John Whyte asked the judge to impose a one-year conditional sentence, but the judge granted Santos’ request for an absolute discharge, noting Santos was an otherwise law-abiding, respected member of the community, as well as a good family man.
“His conduct was not dangerous or antisocial and recent polls suggest that a majority of Canadians do not believe such conduct should be the subject of criminal sanctions,” said Judge Challenger.
Challenger added that lawmakers should consider amending or repealing Canada’s cannabis laws, to bring them in line with “modern social values”.
“When it becomes common for persons of good character to willingly and knowingly conduct themselves in violation of a law, which is widely seen to be unwarranted or unjust or unfair, this should cause those who enact our laws and who are tasked with enforcing or upholding the law to give serious consideration to the repeal or amendment of that law to bring it into accord with modern social values,” Challenger said.
The full judgment can be found by clicking here.
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