Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Man who grew cannabis as pain-relief sentence reduced but still unjustly locked up

Although I welcome the reduction in sentence, truth is that Matthews seems to have harmed nobody and simply tried to ease his pains with a plant he found effective and that he could grow in the privacy of his own home - NOBODY ELSE WAS INVOLVED.

I find it remarkable that courts, the legal profession and journalists alike do not seem to realise the difference between some form of medical dependency and addiction.

All people that take medication to treat the symptoms of illness or accident are dependent upon the medication until they either recover or it is replaced by something more effective.

The result of stopping the medication is usually a return of or worsening of the symptoms or pain.

Addiction, however, is completely different, depending upon the addictiveness of the substance and the person.

Stopping use of an additive drug is usually accompanied by withdrawal symptoms - new problems that were not there before the drug was taken.

I very much doubt that Matthews was a cannabis addict as cannabis itself is not an addictive drug.

One thing is quite obvious though - sending him to prison will not (has not) help his whether or not be was dependent or addicted!

Sending a person to prison for doing something to ease suffering of self - such being that there was somebody else involved - is simply unjust.

Had Matthews been suffering from MS, had he been living in certain parts of the country (some NH areas refuse to prescribe) - he may have been prescribed cannabis in the form of an expensive extract called Sativex, also containing alcohol that brings its own problems for some people.

And guess what!

Sativex is simply cannabis in a liquid spray form, contains all the chemicals found in the plant - but just about 20 times more expensive

Jail term cut for back pain man who grew own cannabis
By Stuart Richards, April 24, 2012, Get Surrey

A MAN who grew cannabis in his loft and used the drug as a painkiller for chronic back problems has been granted a reduction in his prison sentence.
Pro-cannabis campaigner Winston Matthews, 55, of Upfield Close, Horley, took his case to the Court of Appeal last Thursday (April 19) and had his jail term cut from 16 to 12 months.
The appeal court heard that Matthews - who previously admitted breaching a suspended sentence, three counts of cultivating cannabis and two of possessing the drug - was due to receive a deferred sentence at Guildford Crown Court in February, so he could get help for his addiction, but was instead sent to prison after saying he would "struggle" not to take cannabis.
But senior judges have now reduced the sentence, ruling that the original term was "too long".
Judge Paul Batty QC, sitting with Lord Justice Pill and Mr Justice Spencer, said Matthews was first given a suspended sentence in August 2010 after 56 cannabis plants were found in his home.
His flat was searched by police later that month, and again in December that year, and a further 42 plants were discovered during those two raids.
Matthews was told he would receive a deferred sentence, in order to give him a chance to find alternative pain relief and stop using cannabis.
But, speaking directly to Judge Christopher Critchlow at Guildford Crown Court on February 3 this year, Matthews said he could not guarantee that he would stop using cannabis to alleviate his pain.
He was jailed three days later by Judge Suzan Matthews, who said she had no other option but to send him to prison due to his "persistent" offending.
Challenging the 16-month jail term last week, Matthews' lawyers argued Judge Matthews did not take enough account of his physical and mental problems which had led to him using cannabis for pain relief.
Barrister Ben Cooper said his client grew his own drugs in order to "bypass" criminals and used cannabis because he had chronic back pain, following an accident as a teenager, and a depressive illness.
Mr Cooper said Matthews was not eligible for a cannabis-based prescription drug as it is currently only given to Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, but that he had taken steps towards finding a lawful alternative form of pain relief.
Judge Batty said Matthews did deserve to go to prison, but that the sentence should have been shorter as it was his first jail term.
He added: "Even where cultivation is for the defendant's own use then custody is almost inevitable. The courts have tried and tried again so far as this appellant is concerned to avoid a custodial sentence.
"No matter what the personal mitigation may be, the time has to come at some point when custody cannot be avoided and that time has come for this appellant.
"That said, this is the appellant's first sentence of imprisonment and we have sympathy for his position.
"We think it is possible to slightly mitigate the length of the sentence without in any way criticising the perfectly proper approach the judge took in this case."

1 comment:

  1. I've just read a press report of a similar case in South Wales "Man smoked cannabis to relieve chronic back pain" in the Carmarthen Journal.

    In this case a Mr Walters grew cannabis in his own home for his own use to ease his pain (spondylosis, a degenerative nerve condition) - pretty much what Winston Matthews did.

    Like Winston Matthews, Mr Walters admitted what he had been doing. There is no mention that he was asked to stop.

    In this case, however, the Llanelli Magistrate gave Mr Walters a ten-pound fine, along with £85 costs and the £15 "victims surcharge fee", saying "very sad."

    Walters' solicitor has explained ""He only smokes in the privacy of his own home," Mr Reed said. "It keeps him sane and helps him to sleep." ... "He is doing no harm to anyone but himself. He does not want to go on medication such as morphine."

    That sounds so much like Winston Matthews' case that one is forced to ask why the difference in sentence. Why did Matthews' have to be sent to suffer in prison?

    As to the "victims surcharge" if Walters did no harm to others - where was the victim in either case?