Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Wheelchair-bound man jailed for cannabis

TAF - Wheelchair-bound man jailed for cannabis: "A wheelchair-bound brain damaged Christchurch man has been sent back to prison for cultivating cannabis which he claimed was for pain relief.

The five-month sentence handed down to Neville Yates caused an uproar in court and security guards had to remove cannabis decriminalisation supporters from the building after they started yelling 'there is no justice in sending a cripple to prison'.

A Christchurch District Court jury last month found Yates guilty of cultivating nine plants in his home. Defending himself, he had told them cannabis was the only effective way he had found to alleviate the constant and chronic pain he had suffered since a serious accident 30 years ago.

But the conviction was his fourth for cultivation and his ninth for cannabis related charges. In 1999 he was sentenced to 18 months jail which was reduced to nine months on appeal.

This morning Judge David Holderness told Yates he accepted that the cannabis was mostly being grown for pain relief and not for any commercial gain.

'But I do not need to tell you Mr Yates that cultivation of cannabis is illegal in this country.'

Judge Holderness said Yates' decision to defend himself and the direction the advice he took from friends had not helped his case. It was clear to the jury that he had cultivated cannabis.

'You were not, in my view, greatly assisted in your defence by your Mackenzie friend, and only served the needs of a group who were plainly pro-cannabis advocates.'

Outside the court those advocates, and in particular Blair Anderson who was Yates' Mackenzie friend (assistant in court) during the trial, were angry to have been singled out by the judge.

Mr Anderson said his help came from 'good intentions' and was not a method of pushing his cause.

He said an appeal was likely although he had not discussed it with Yates before the sentencing.
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